TNFα inhibits Schwann cell proliferation, connexin46 expression, and gap junctional communication

Karen J. Chandross*, David C. Spray, Rick I. Cohen, Nalin M. Kumar, Marian Kremer, Rolf Dermietzel, John A. Kessler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Schwann cell responses to nerve injury are stimulated, in part, by inflammatory cytokines. This study compares changes in the phenotype of cultured Schwann cells after exposure to the cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α or the mitogen neu differentiation factor (NDF)-β. TNFα inhibited proliferation in a dose-dependent manner without altering Schwann cell survival. TNFα also reduced both gap junctional conductance and Lucifer yellow dye coupling between Schwann cells. Moreover, both P0 and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) immunoreactivity were reduced. By contrast, NDFβ initially had little effect on cell division although it reduced junctional coupling within 8 h. However, by 48 h, NDFβ stimulated proliferation with a concomitant increase in coupling. Dividing Schwann cells (BrdU·) were preferentially dye coupled compared to non-dividing cells, indicating an association between proliferation and coupling. Moreover, cultured Schwann cells expressed connexin46 mRNA and protein, and changes in the levels of the protein correlated with the degree of proliferation and coupling. The data thus provide evidence for cytokine-induced modulation of Schwann cell antigenic phenotype, proliferation, and gap junction properties. These observations suggest that enhanced gap junctional communication among Schwann cells after nerve injury could help to coordinate cellular responses to the injury, and that TNFα may be a signal which terminates proliferation as well as junctional communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-500
Number of pages22
JournalMolecular and Cellular Neurosciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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