RNA Sequencing of Human Peripheral Nerve in Response to Injury: Distinctive Analysis of the Nerve Repair Pathways

Andrew S. Welleford, Jorge E. Quintero, Nader El Seblani, Eric Blalock, Sumedha Gunewardena, Steven M. Shapiro, Sean M. Riordan, Peter Huettl, Zain Guduru, John A. Stanford, Craig G. van Horne, Greg A. Gerhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The development of regenerative therapies for central nervous system diseases can likely benefit from an understanding of the peripheral nervous system repair process, particularly in identifying potential gene pathways involved in human nerve repair. This study employed RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) technology to analyze the whole transcriptome profile of the human peripheral nerve in response to an injury. The distal sural nerve was exposed, completely transected, and a 1 to 2 cm section of nerve fascicles was collected for RNA-seq from six participants with Parkinson’s disease, ranging in age between 53 and 70 yr. Two weeks after the initial injury, another section of the nerve fascicles of the distal and pre-degenerated stump of the nerve was dissected and processed for RNA-seq studies. An initial analysis between the pre-lesion status and the postinjury gene expression revealed 3,641 genes that were significantly differentially expressed. In addition, the results support a clear transdifferentiation process that occurred by the end of the 2-wk postinjury. Gene ontology (GO) and hierarchical clustering were used to identify the major signaling pathways affected by the injury. In contrast to previous nonclinical studies, important changes were observed in molecular pathways related to antiapoptotic signaling, neurotrophic factor processes, cell motility, and immune cell chemotactic signaling. The results of our current study provide new insights regarding the essential interactions of different molecular pathways that drive neuronal repair and axonal regeneration in humans.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCell Transplantation
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Ann Hanley Parkinson’s Research Fund and the Clark Fund. The Genomics Core is supported by the following NIH grants—Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (NIH U54 HD 090216), the Molecular Regulation of Cell Development and Differentiation—COBRE (P30 GM122731-03), the NIH S10 High-End Instrumentation Grant (NIH S10OD021743), and the Frontiers CTSA grant (UL1TR002366) at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • RNA-seq
  • Schwann cell
  • Wallerian degeneration
  • graft
  • neurodegenerative diseases
  • peripheral nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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