The perineuronal net (PN) is a subtype of extracellular matrix appearing as a net-like structure around distinct neurons throughout the whole CNS. PNs surround the soma, proximal dendrites, and the axonal initial segment embedding synaptic terminals on the neuronal surface. Different functions of the PNs are suggested which include support of synaptic stabilization, inhibition of axonal sprouting, and control of neuronal plasticity. A number of studies provide evidence that removing PNs or PN-components results in renewed neurite growth and synaptogenesis. In a mouse model for Purkinje cell degeneration, we examined the effect of deafferentation on synaptic remodeling and modulation of PNs in the deep cerebellar nuclei. We found reduced GABAergic, enhanced glutamatergic innervations at PN-associated neurons, and altered expression of the PN-components brevican and hapln4. These data refer to a direct interaction between ECM and synapses. The altered brevican expression induced by activated astrocytes could be required for an adequate regeneration by promoting neurite growth and synaptogenesis.
Blosa, M., Bursch, C., Weigel, S., Holzer, M., Jäger, C., Janke, C., … Morawski, M. (2016). Reorganization of synaptic connections and perineuronal nets in the deep cerebellar nuclei of purkinje cell degeneration mutant mice. Neural Plasticity, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/2828536