Neurotrophins 3 and 4 differentially regulate NCAM, LI and N-cadherin expression during peripheral nerve regeneration

Martin R. Thornton, Susan G. Shawcross, Cristina Mantovani, Paul J. Kingham, Martin A. Birchall, Giorgio Terenghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The addition of NT-3 (neurotrophin 3) or NT-4 to injured nerves improves their regeneration potential and may aid axon guidance. It is not well defined whether NTs (neurotrophins) influence other elements, such as the cell-adhesion molecules, which promote nerve guidance and regeneration. Using poly-3-hydroxybutyrate conduits, we applied either NT-3 or NT-4 to axotomized rat sciatic nerves and monitored nerve regeneration and cell-adhesion molecule expression. Regenerating nerves were stained with antibodies against NCAM (neural cell-adhesion molecule) and N-cadherin 2 weeks after injury and staining intensity was quantified. NCAM, N-cadherin and LI (LI cell-adhesion molecule) transcription was measured in the proximal and distal stumps and ipsilateral DRG (dorsal root ganglia) (fourth and fifth DRG) using RT (reverse transcriptase)-PCR. Both NT-3 and NT-4 increased NCAM and LI transcript levels in the DRG of axotomized nerves. This is reflected in the increased NCAM expression at the proximal stump and regeneration front. Increased levels of NCAM were also observed in the distal stump. NT-4 administration increased N-cadherin levels proximal to the injury, but not distally. Following NT-3 administration, N-cadherin expression decreased in proximal and distal stumps compared with the control. In conclusion, NTs differentially alter adhesion molecule expression in regenerating nerves and transcription in the corresponding DRG, although these changes in expression do not alter NT-enhanced regeneration. Thus we propose that retrograde transport of the NTs to the DRG affects adhesion molecule transcription, reflected by protein expression in peripheral nerve axons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-174
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology and Applied Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Dorsal root ganglia
  • LI cell-adhesion molecule (LI)
  • N-cadherin
  • Neural cell-adhesion molecule (NCAM)
  • Neurotraphins 3 and 4
  • Peripheral-nerve regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology


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