Netrin-1 is an axonal guidance molecule that plays an important role in spinal tract development. This study suggests that netrin 1 is expressed by oligodendroglial cells and neurons in injured spinal cords. The authors suggest that it may be a myelin-associated inhibitor of axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury.

[*] Manitt C, Wang D, Kennedy TE and Howland DR (2006). Positioned to inhibit: Netrin-1 and netrin receptor expression after spinal cord injury. J Neurosci Res Netrin-1 regulates axon extension during embryonic development and is expressed by neurons and myelinating oligodendrocytes in the adult CNS. To investigate the potential role of netrin-1 after spinal cord injury, we examined the expression of netrin-1 and netrin receptors after sagittal myelotomy in adult rats. This lesion targets spinal commissural projections, which respond to netrin-1 during development. Netrin-1 mRNA and protein levels were dramatically reduced at the site of injury and reduced expression persisted for at least 7 months. Neither netrin-1 protein nor mRNA was associated with the glial scar, but netrin-1 was expressed by neurons and oligodendrocytes immediately adjacent to the lesion. The post-injury distribution detected is similar to that reported for myelin-associated inhibitors of axon regeneration, such as Nogo, and is distinct from the distribution of inhibitors associated with a glial scar. DCC and UNC-5 homologue (UNC5H) expression also was reduced after injury. Although UNC5H levels recovered, DCC expression at the site of injury remained approximately 50% of pre-injury values at 7 months. Increased UNC5H immunoreactivity was associated with fibers in the superficial layers of the dorsal horn and in fibers located in white matter adjacent to the lesion. The dominant expression of UNC5H on axons and neurons in the spinal cord after injury and the persistent expression of netrin-1 by oligodendrocytes surrounding the lesion are consistent with the hypothesis that netrin-1 is a myelin-associated inhibitor of axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury. (c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc. Centre for Neuronal Survival, Montreal Neurological Institute, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.