LPA1 signaling drives Schwann cell dedifferentiation in experimental autoimmune neuritis

Background: Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is a pleiotropic lipid messenger that addresses at least six specific G-protein coupled receptors. Accumulating evidence indicates a significant involvement of LPA in immune cell regulation as well as Schwann cell physiology, with potential relevance for the pathophysiology of peripheral neuroinflammation. However, the role of LPA signaling in inflammatory neuropathies has remained completely undefined. Given the broad expression of LPA receptors on both Schwann cells and cells of the innate and adaptive immune system, we hypothesized that inhibition of LPA signaling may ameliorate the course of disease in experimental autoimmune neuritis (EAN).

Methods: We induced active EAN by inoculation of myelin protein 2 peptide (P2 55–78 ) in female Lewis rats. Animals received the orally available LPA receptor antagonist AM095, specifically targeting the LPA1 receptor subtype. AM095 was administered daily via oral gavage in a therapeutic regimen from 10 until 28 days post-immunization (dpi). Analyses were based on clinical testing, hemogram profiles, immunohistochemistry and morphometric assessment of myelination.

Results: Lewis rats treated with AM095 displayed a significant improvement in clinical scores, most notably during the remission phase. Cellular infiltration of sciatic nerve was only discretely affected by AM095. Hemogram profiles indicated no impact on circulating leukocytes. However, sciatic nerve immunohistochemistry revealed a reduction in the number of Schwann cells expressing the dedifferentiation marker Sox2 paralleled by a corresponding increase in differentiating Sox10-positive Schwann cells. In line with this, morphometric analysis of sciatic nerve semi-thin sections identified a significant increase in large-caliber myelinated axons at 28 dpi. Myelin thickness was unaffected by AM095.

Conclusion: Thus, LPA1 signaling may present a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of inflammatory neuropathies, potentially affecting regenerative responses in the peripheral nerve by modulating Schwann cell differentiation.


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