Transgenic SCs expressing GDNF-IRES-DsRed impair nerve regeneration within acellular nerve allografts

Xueping Ee, Ying Yan, Daniel A. Hunter, Lauren Schellhardt, Shelly E. Sakiyama-Elbert, Susan E. Mackinnon, Matthew D. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Providing temporally regulated glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) to injured nerve can promote robust axon regeneration. However, it is poorly understood why providing highly elevated levels of GDNF to nerve can lead to axon entrapment in the zone containing elevated GDNF. This limited understanding represents an obstacle to the translation of GDNF therapies to treat nerve injuries clinically. Here, we investigated how transgenic Schwann cells (SCs) overexpressing GDNF-IRES-DsRed impact nerve regeneration. Cultured primary SCs were transduced with lentiviruses (GDNF-overexpressing transgenic SCs), one of which provides the capability to express high levels of GDNF and regulate temporal GDNF expression. These SC groups were transplanted into acellular nerve allografts (ANAs) bridging a 14 mm rat sciatic nerve defect. GDNF-overexpressing transgenic SCs expressing GDNF for as little as 1 week decreased axon regeneration across ANAs and caused extensive extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling. To determine whether additional gene expression changes beyond GDNF transgene expression occurred in GDNF-overexpressing transgenic SCs, microarray analysis of GDNF-overexpressing transgenic SCs compared to untreated SCs was performed. Microarray analysis revealed a set of common genes regulated in transgenic SC groups expressing high levels of GDNF compared to untreated SCs. A co-culture model of GDNF-overexpressing transgenic SCs with fibroblasts (FBs) revealed differential FB ECM-related gene expression compared to untreated SCs. These data suggest a component of axon entrapment is independent of GDNF's impact on axons. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2017;114: 2121–2130.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2121-2130
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • acellular nerve allograft
  • candy store effect
  • gene therapy
  • glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor
  • nerve regeneration
  • peripheral nerve


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