A major reason for the devastating and permanent disabilities after spinal cord and other types of CNS injury is the failure of injured axons to regenerate and to re-build the functional circuits. Thus, a long-standing goal has been to develop strategies that could promote axon regeneration and restore functions. Recent studies revealed that simply removing extracellular inhibitory activities is insufficient for successful axon regeneration in the adult CNS. On the other side, evidence from different species and different models is accumulating to support the notion that diminished intrinsic regenerative ability of mature neurons is a major contributor to regeneration failure. This review will summarize the molecular mechanisms regulating intrinsic axon growth capacity in the adult CNS and discuss potential implications for therapeutic strategies.
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