Retinal glia promote dorsal root ganglion axon regeneration

Barbara Lorber, Daniel J Chew, Stefanie M Hauck, Rachel S Chong, James W Fawcett, Keith R Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Axon regeneration in the adult central nervous system (CNS) is limited by several factors including a lack of neurotrophic support. Recent studies have shown that glia from the adult rat CNS, specifically retinal astrocytes and Müller glia, can promote regeneration of retinal ganglion cell axons. In the present study we investigated whether retinal glia also exert a growth promoting effect outside the visual system. We found that retinal glial conditioned medium significantly enhanced neurite growth and branching of adult rat dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRG) in culture. Furthermore, transplantation of retinal glia significantly enhanced regeneration of DRG axons past the dorsal root entry zone after root crush in adult rats. To identify the factors that mediate the growth promoting effects of retinal glia, mass spectrometric analysis of retinal glial conditioned medium was performed. Apolipoprotein E and secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC) were found to be present in high abundance, a finding further confirmed by western blotting. Inhibition of Apolipoprotein E and SPARC significantly reduced the neuritogenic effects of retinal glial conditioned medium on DRG in culture, suggesting that Apolipoprotein E and SPARC are the major mediators of this regenerative response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0115996
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Apolipoprotein E
  • Axons
  • Neuroglia
  • Osteonectin
  • Regeneration


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