The membrane attack complex of the complement system is essential for rapid wallerian degeneration

Valeria Ramaglia, Rosalind Helen Mary King, Michelle Nourallah, Ruud Wolterman, Rosalein de Jonge, Marja Ramkema, Miriam Ann Vigar, Sandra van der Wetering, Brian Paul Morgan, Dirk Troost, Frank Baas

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The complement (C) system plays an important role in myelin breakdown during Wallerian degeneration (WD). The pathway and mechanism involved are, however, not clear. In a crush injury model of the sciatic nerve, we show that C6, necessary for the assembly of the membrane attack complex (MAC), is essential for rapid WD. At 3 d after injury, pronounced WD occurred in wild-type animals, whereas the axons and myelin of C6- deficient animals appeared intact. Macrophage recruitment and activation was inhibited in C6-deficient rats. However, 7 d after injury, the distal part of the C6-deficient nerves appeared degraded. As a consequence of a delayed WD, more myelin breakdown products were present than in wild-type nerves. Reconstitution of the C6-deficient animals with C6 restored the wild-type phenotype. Treatment with rhC1INH (recombinant human complement 1 inhibitor) blocked deposition of activated C-cleaved products after injury. These experiments demonstrate that the classical pathway of the complement system is activated after acute nerve trauma and that the entire complement cascade, including MAC deposition, is essential for rapid WD and efficient clearance of myelin after acute peripheral nerve trauma
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7663-7672
JournalJournal of neuroscience
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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