Microglia Enhance Dorsal Root Ganglion Outgrowth in Schwann Cell Cultures

Dianna L. Hynds, Nagarathnamma Rangappa, Julia Ter Beest, Diane M. Snow, Alexander G. Rabchevsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Transplantation of cellular populations to facilitate regrowth of damaged axons is a common experimental therapy for spinal cord injury. Schwann cells (SC) or microglia grafted into injury sites can promote axonal regrowth of central projections of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) sensory neurons. We sought to determine whether the addition of microglia or microglia-derived secretory products alters DRG axon regrowth upon cultures of SC. Rat DRG explants were grown on monolayers consisting of either SC, microglia, SC exposed to microglia-conditioned medium (MCM), or co-cultures with different relative concentrations of microglia. Image analysis revealed that, compared to SC alone, the extent of neurite outgrowth was significantly greater on SC-microglia co-cultures. Immunocytochemistry for extracellular matrix molecules showed that microglial cells stained positively for growth-promoting thrombospondin, whereas laminin and the inhibitory chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) were localized primarily to SC. Notably, immunoreactivity for CSPGs appeared reduced in areas associated with DRG outgrowth in co-cultures and SC exposed to MCM. These results show that microglia or their secreted products can augment SC-mediated DRG regrowth in vitro, indicating that co-grafting SC with microglia provides a novel approach to augment sensory fiber regeneration after spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-223
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2004


  • DRG
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Microglia-conditioned medium
  • Neurite
  • Schwann cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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