Peripheral nerve injury results in short-term and long-term changes in both neurons and glia. In the present study, immunohistological and immunoblot analyses were used to examine the expression of the neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) and the neuron-glia cell adhesion molecule (Ng-CAM) within different parts of a functionally linked neuromuscular system extending from skeletal muscle to the spinal cord after peripheral nerve injury. Histological samples were taken from 3 to 150 d after crushing or transecting the sciatic nerve in adult chickens and mice. In unperturbed tissues, both N-CAM and Ng-CAM were found on nonmyelinated axons, and to a lesser extent on Schwann cells and myelinated axons. Only N-CAM was found on muscles. After denervation, the following changes were observed: (a) The amount of N-CAM in muscle fibers increased transiently on the surface and in the cytoplasm, and in interstitial spaces between fibers. (b) Restoration of normal N-CAM levels in muscle was dependent on reinnervation; in a chronically denervated state, N-CAM levels remained high. (c) After crushing or cutting the nerve, the amount of both CAMs increased in the area surrounding the lesion, and the predominant form of N-CAM changed from a discrete M(r) 140,000 component to the polydisperse high molecular weight embryonic form. Anti-N-CAM antibodies stained neurites, Schwann cells, and the perineurium of the regenerating sciatic nerve. Anti-Ng-CAM antibodies labeled neurites, Schwann cells and the endoneurial tubes in the distal stump. (d) Changes in CAM distribution were observed in dorsal root ganglia and in the spinal cord only after the nerve was cut. The fibers within affected dorsal root ganglia were more intensely labeled for both CAMs, and the motor neurons in the ventral horn of the spinal cord of the affected segments were stained more intensely in a ring pattern by anti-N-CAM and anti-Ng-CAM than their counterparts on the side contralateral to the lesion. Taken together with the previous studies (Rieger, F., M. Grumet, and G.M. Edelman, J. Cell Biol. 101:285-293), these data suggest that local signals between neurons and glia may regulate CAM expression in the spinal cord and nerve during regeneration, and that activity may regulate N-CAM expression in muscle. Correlations of the present observations are made here with established events of nerve degeneration and suggest a number of roles for the CAMs in regenerative events. Such correlations may have practical applications in the study of nerve repair particularly in view of the function of CAMs in mediating cell-cell adhesion leading to tissue structures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology