A pathogenic role for senescent Schwann cells in the aging-associated impairment of nerve regeneration

Sungsu Kim, Ph.D.

Project Summary:

At least 1/3 of the 65 years and older population suffer from some form of peripheral neuropathy. Interestingly, the regenerative capacity of peripheral nerves after injury significantly diminishes with age, which suggests an associateon between impaired nerve regeneration and peripheral neuropathies in aged individuals. Schwann cells (SCs) are the major glial cells of the peripheral nervous system that support neurons and insulate axons. SCs play an important role in promoting peripheral nerve regeneration. In this study, we will investigate how aged SCs affect peripheral regeneration in aged mouse models by employing gene therapy and pharmacological reagents. This study will provide important insights on how aging impedes nerve regeneration, and ultimately facilitate the development of therapeutic strategies for promoting nerve repair in aged individuals by targeting SCs and their injury response.