Prosaposin Facilitates Sciatic Nerve Regeneration In Vivo


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. A. Sano at Department of Neuropsychiatry, Ehime University School of Medicine, Shigenobu, Onsen-gun, Ehime 791-02, Japan.


Abstract: Prosaposin, a multifunctional protein, is the precursor of saposins, which activate sphingolipid hydrolases. In addition to acting as a precursor for saposins, prosaposin has been shown to rescue hippocampal CA1 neurons from lethal ischemic damage in vivo and to promote neurite extension of neuroblastoma cells in vitro. Here we show that prosaposin, when added to a collagen-filled nerve guide after sciatic nerve transection in guinea pigs, increased dramatically the number of regenerating nerve fibers within the guide. To identify the target neurons of prosaposin during peripheral nerve regeneration, we determined the degree of atrophy and chromatolysis of neurons in the spinal anterior horn and dorsal root ganglia on the prosaposin-treated and untreated side. The effect of prosaposin on large spinal neurons and small neurons of the dorsal root ganglion was more conspicuous. Subsequent immunohistochemistry demonstrated that the atrophy of cholinergic large neurons in the anterior horn is prevented to significant extent by prosaposin treatment. These findings suggest that prosaposin promotes peripheral nerve regeneration by acting on α-motor neurons in the anterior horn and on small sensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglion. The present study raises the possibility of using prosaposin as a tool for the treatment of peripheral nerve injuries.