Wallerian degeneration is a subject of major interest in neuroscience. A large number of genes are differentially regulated during the distinct stages of Wallerian degeneration: transcription factor activation, immune response, myelin cell differentiation and dedifferentiation. Although gene expression responses in the distal segment of the sciatic nerve after peripheral nerve injury are known, differences in gene expression between the proximal and distal segments remain unclear.
Dr. Dengbing Yao and co-workers from Nantong University, China used microarrays to analyze changes in gene expression, biological processes and signaling pathways in the proximal and distal segments of sciatic nerves undergoing Wallerian degeneration. More than 6,000 genes were differentially expressed and 20 types of expression tendencies were identifed, mainly between proximal and distal segments at 7-14 days after injury. The differentially expressed genes were those involved in cell differentiation, cytokinesis, neuron differentiation, nerve development and axon regeneration. Furthermore, 11 biological processes were represented, related to responses to stimuli, cell apoptosis, inflammatory response, immune response, signal transduction, protein kinase activity, and cell proliferation. Using real-time quantitative PCR, western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry, microarray data were verified for four genes: aquaporin-4, interleukin 1 receptor-like 1, matrix metalloproteinase-12 and periaxin.
Their study, reported in the Neural Regeneration Research (Vol. 9, No. 12, 2014), identifies differential gene expression in the proximal and distal segments of a nerve during Wallerian degeneration, analyzes dynamic biological changes of these genes, and provides a useful platform for the detailed study of nerve injury and repair during Wallerian degeneration.