© 2015 the authors. Failure of axonal regeneration in the central nervous system (CNS) is mainly attributed to a lack of intrinsic neuronal growth programs and an inhibitory environment from a glial scar. Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is a major negative regulator of neuronal regeneration and, as such, inhibiting its activity has been considered a therapeutic target for spinal cord (SC) injuries (SCIs). Using a novel model of rat cervical avulsion, we show that treatment with a retinoic acid receptor β (RARβ) agonist results in locomotor and sensory recovery. Axonal regeneration from the severed roots into the SC could be seen by biotinylated dextran amine labeling. Light micrographs of the dorsal root entry zone show the peripheral nervous system (PNS)-CNS transition of regrown axons. RARβ agonist treatment also resulted in the absence of scar formation. Mechanism studies revealed that, inRARβ-agonist-treated neurons,PTENactivity is decreased by cytoplasmic phosphorylation and increased secretion in exosomes. These are taken up by astrocytes, resulting in hampered proliferation and causing them to arrange in a normal-appearing scaffold around the regenerating axons. Attribution of the glial modulation to neuronal PTEN in exosomes was demonstrated by the use of an exosome inhibitor in vivo and PTEN siRNA in vitro assays. The dual effect ofRARβ signaling, both neuronal and neuronal-glial, results in axonal regeneration into the SC after dorsal root neurotmesis. Targeting this pathway may open new avenues for the treatment of SCIs.
Goncalves, M. B., Malmqvist, T., Clarke, E., Hubens, C. J., Grist, J., Hobbs, C., … Corcoran, J. P. T. (2015). Neuronal RARβ Signaling Modulates PTEN Activity Directly in Neurons and via Exosome Transfer in Astrocytes to Prevent Glial Scar Formation and Induce Spinal Cord Regeneration. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35(47), 15731–15745. https://doi.org/10.1523/jneurosci.1339-15.2015