Study uncovers key to development of peripheral nervous system

May 29, 2013, Geisinger Health System

Patients suffering from hereditary neuropathy may have hope for new treatment thanks to a Geisinger study that uncovered a key to the development of the peripheral nervous system.

In an article published today in the online medical journal Nature Communications, Geisinger researchers found that a protein present within plays a larger role than previously thought in the development of the .

Nikolaos Tapinos, M.D., Ph.D., director of neurosurgery research and staff scientist at Geisinger's Sigfried and Janet Weis Center for Research, said the findings could have implications in how hereditary neuropathy is treated. Hereditary neuropathy affects the peripheral nervous system, causing subtle symptoms such as muscle weakness, wasting and numbness that worsen over time.

"When the peripheral nervous system develops in utero, certain proteins control how the cells travel throughout the body to the proper locations," Dr. Tapinos said. "Some of those proteins are already known, but this is the first time that the protein Lck has been identified as integral to this process."

Lck, or lymphocyte-specific , is a protein that is found inside specialized cells of the immune system. Dr. Tapinos' research found that Lck controls how cells called Schwann cells migrate across neurons throughout the peripheral nervous system.

Schwann cells function by creating the myelin sheath, the fatty covering that acts as an insulator around . In humans, the production of myelin begins in the 14th week of fetal development and continues through infancy and adolescence. When errors occur in the creation of myelin, hereditary neuropathy such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), a motor and sensory neuropathy, can result.

"What we have found is that Lck is essentially the 'switch' that signals migration of the and production of the ," Dr. Tapinos said. "This finding sets the stage for further research into the specific molecular mechanisms that occur in order for this process to break down, and eventually toward developing treatments to prevent it."

Explore further: Glial cells assist in the repair of injured nerves

Related Stories

Glial cells assist in the repair of injured nerves

January 28, 2013
When a nerve is damaged, glial cells produce the protein neuregulin1 and thereby promote the regeneration of nerve tissue.

Inproved repair to damage of the peripheral nervous system

June 15, 2012
Researchers from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Exeter, in collaboration with colleagues from Rutgers University, Newark and University College London, have furthered understanding of the mechanism ...

Hitting 'reset' in protein synthesis restores myelination, suggests new treatment for misfolded protein diseases

April 26, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A potential new treatment strategy for patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is on the horizon, thanks to research by neuroscientists now at the University at Buffalo's Hunter James Kelly Research Institute ...

Brain tumours and peripheral neuropathy

March 5, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry are part of an international team which has for the first time identified the role of a tumour suppressor in peripheral neuropathy ...

Recommended for you

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

Scientists unleash power of genetic data to identify disease risk

January 16, 2018
Massive banks of genetic information are being harnessed to shed new light on modifiable health risks that underlie common diseases.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.