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Keywords:

  • BDNF ;
  • mimetic;
  • myelination;
  • neurotrophin;
  • p75NTR;
  • Schwann cell

Abstract

The expression of the neurotrophins and their receptors is essential for peripheral nervous system development and myelination. We have previously demonstrated that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) exerts contrasting influences upon Schwann cell myelination in vitro – promoting myelination via neuronally expressed p75NTR, but inhibiting myelination via neuronally expressed TrkB. We have generated a small peptide called cyclo-dPAKKR that structurally mimics the region of BDNF that binds p75NTR. Here, we have investigated whether utilizing cyclo-dPAKKR to selectively target p75NTR is an approach that could exert a unified promyelinating response. Like BDNF, cyclo-dPAKKR promoted myelination of nerve growth factor-dependent neurons in vitro, an effect dependent on the neuronal expression of p75NTR. Importantly, cyclo-dPAKKR also significantly promoted the myelination of tropomyosin-related kinase receptor B-expressing neurons in vitro, whereas BDNF exerted a significant inhibitory effect. This indicated that while BDNF exerted a contrasting influence upon the myelination of distinct subsets of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in vitro, cyclo-dPAKKR uniformly promoted their myelination. Local injection of cyclo-dPAKKR adjacent to the developing sciatic nerve in vivo significantly enhanced myelin protein expression and significantly increased the number of myelinated axons. These results demonstrate that cyclo-dPAKKR promotes peripheral myelination in vitro and in vivo, suggesting it is a strategy worthy of further investigation for the treatment of peripheral demyelinating diseases.