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

Team develops new way to grow blood vessels

August 17, 2018
Formation of new blood vessels, a process also known as angiogenesis, is one of the major clinical challenges in wound healing and tissue implants. To address this issue, researchers from Texas A&M University have developed ...

New imaging technique can spot tuberculosis infection in an hour

August 16, 2018
Guided by glowing bacteria, researchers have devised an imaging technique that can diagnose live tuberculosis in an hour and help monitor the efficacy of treatments. That's particularly critical because many TB strains have ...

Obesity, infertility and oxidative stress in mouse egg cells

August 16, 2018
Excessive body fat is associated with negative effects on female fertility and pregnancy. In mice, maternal obesity impairs proper development of egg precursor cells called oocytes. In a recent paper published in Molecular ...

Research shows it's possible to reverse damage caused by aging cells

August 15, 2018
What's the secret to aging well? University of Minnesota Medical School researchers have answered it- on a cellular level.

This matrix delivers healing stem cells to injured elderly muscles

August 15, 2018
A car accident leaves an aging patient with severe muscle injuries that won't heal. Treatment with muscle stem cells from a donor might restore damaged tissue, but doctors are unable to deliver them effectively. A new method ...

Male tobacco smokers have brain-wide reduction of CB1 receptors

August 15, 2018
Chronic, frequent tobacco smokers have a decreased number of cannabinoid CB1 receptors, the "pot receptor", when compared with non-smokers, reports a study in Biological Psychiatry.

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.