Peripheral nerve pathology, including aberrant Schwann cell differentiation, is ameliorated by doxycycline in a laminin-alpha2-deficient mouse model of congenital muscular dystrophy

UMMS Affiliation

Wellstone Center for FSHD



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Animals; Anti-Bacterial Agents; Cell Differentiation; Doxycycline; Early Growth Response Protein 2; Gene Expression Regulation; Humans; Laminin; Mice; Mice, Inbred C57BL; Mice, Knockout; Motor Activity; Muscular Dystrophies; Muscular Dystrophy, Animal; Octamer Transcription Factor-6; Peripheral Nerves; Schwann Cells; Sciatic Nerve; Spinal Nerve Roots


Cell Biology | Developmental Biology | Molecular Biology | Molecular Genetics | Musculoskeletal Diseases | Nervous System Diseases


The most common form of childhood congenital muscular dystrophy, Type 1A (MDC1A), is caused by mutations in the human LAMA2 gene that encodes the laminin-alpha2 subunit. In addition to skeletal muscle deficits, MDC1A patients typically show a loss of peripheral nerve function. To identify the mechanisms underlying this loss of nerve function, we have examined pathology and cell differentiation in sciatic nerves and ventral roots of the laminin-alpha2-deficient (Lama2(-/-)) mice, which are models for MDC1A. We found that, compared with wild-type, sciatic nerves of Lama2(-/-) mice had a significant increase in both proliferating (Ki67+) cells and premyelinating (Oct6+) Schwann cells, but also had a significant decrease in both immature/non-myelinating [glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)(+)] and myelinating (Krox20+) Schwann cells. To extend our previous work in which we found that doxycycline, which has multiple effects on mammalian cells, improves motor behavior and more than doubles the median life-span of Lama2(-/-) mice, we also determined how nerve pathology was affected by doxycycline treatment. We found that myelinating (Krox20+) Schwann cells were significantly increased in doxycycline-treated compared with untreated sciatic nerves. In addition, doxycycline-treated peripheral nerves had significantly less pathology as measured by assays such as amount of unmyelinated or disorganized axons. This study thus identified aberrant proliferation and differentiation of Schwann cells as key components of pathogenesis in peripheral nerves and provided proof-of-concept that pharmaceutical therapy can be of potential benefit for peripheral nerve dysfunction in MDC1A.

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Citation: Homma S, Beermann ML, Miller JB. Peripheral nerve pathology, including aberrant Schwann cell differentiation, is ameliorated by doxycycline in a laminin-α2-deficient mouse model of congenital muscular dystrophy. Hum Mol Genet. 2011 Jul 1;20(13):2662-72. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddr168. Link to article on publisher's site

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