Sensory neurons with cell bodies in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) represent a useful model to study axon regeneration. Whereas regeneration and functional recovery occurs after peripheral nerve injury, spinal cord injury or dorsal root injury is not followed by regenerative outcomes. Regeneration of sensory axons in peripheral nerves is not entirely cell autonomous. Whether the DRG microenvironment influences the different regenerative capacities after injury to peripheral or central axons remains largely unknown. To answer this question, we performed a single-cell transcriptional profiling of mouse DRG in response to peripheral (sciatic nerve crush) and central axon injuries (dorsal root crush and spinal cord injury). Each cell type responded differently to the three types of injuries. All injuries increased the proportion of a cell type that shares features of both immune cells and glial cells. A distinct subset of satellite glial cells (SGC) appeared specifically in response to peripheral nerve injury. Activation of the PPARα signaling pathway in SGC, which promotes axon regeneration after peripheral nerve injury, failed to occur after central axon injuries. Treatment with the FDA-approved PPARα agonist fenofibrate increased axon regeneration after dorsal root injury. This study provides a map of the distinct DRG microenvironment responses to peripheral and central injuries at the single-cell level and highlights that manipulating non-neuronal cells could lead to avenues to promote functional recovery after CNS injuries or disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere68457
StatePublished - Sep 2021


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