Schwann cells, the myelin forming cells in the peripheral nervous system, play a key role in the pathology of various inflammatory, metabolic and hereditary polyneuropathies. Advances in identifying growth factors and signaling molecules that are expressed by Schwann cells have paved the way for development of new treatment strategies that are aimed to improve the protective and regenerative properties of Schwann cells in peripheral nerve disorders. These include the exogenous application of growth factors and neurohormones which have been advanced into clinical trials in humans, and transplantation paradigms that have been moved into late stage preclinical models. In this review we will discuss the latest developments in these therapeutic approaches with special regard to peripheral nerve disorders, in which progress in basic research has already been translated into clinical trials, including HIV-associated distal sensory polyneuropathy and diabetic neuropathy.
Keywords: Schwann cells, myelination, regeneration, nerve injury, peripheral nerve, polyneuropathy, diabetic neuropathy, HIV-SN, HIV-Associated Distal Sensory Polyneuropathy, antiretroviral toxic neuropathy, NRTIs, Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, CMT1A, HNPP, pmp22, microangiopathy, polyol pathway, Neurotrophins, Gracely Pain Scale, temporal hyperalgesia, Eyrthropoetin, rhEPO, Progesterone, Ascorbic Acid
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