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01.12.2016 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

Journal of Neuroinflammation 1/2016

Impairment of toll-like receptors 2 and 4 leads to compensatory mechanisms after sciatic nerve axotomy

Journal of Neuroinflammation > Ausgabe 1/2016
C. M. Freria, D. Bernardes, G. L. Almeida, G. F. Simões, G. O. Barbosa, A. L. R. Oliveira
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12974-016-0579-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

CMF performed and designed the research, analyzed the data, and wrote the paper. DB, GFS, GBO, and GLA performed research and analyzed the data. ALRO provided the study concept, design, and supervision and wrote paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Peripheral nerve injury results in retrograde cell body-related changes in the spinal motoneurons that will contribute to the regenerative response of their axons. Successful functional recovery also depends on molecular events mediated by innate immune response during Wallerian degeneration in the nerve microenvironment. A previous study in our lab demonstrated that TLR 2 and 4 develop opposite effects on synaptic stability in the spinal cord after peripheral nerve injury. Therefore, we suggested that the better preservation of spinal cord microenvironment would positively influence distal axonal regrowth. In this context, the present work aimed to investigate the influence of TLR2 and TLR4 on regeneration and functional recovery after peripheral nerve injury.


Eighty-eight mice were anesthetized and subjected to unilateral sciatic nerve crush (C3H/HeJ, n = 22, C3H/HePas, n = 22; C57Bl6/J, n = 22 and TLR2−/−, n = 22). After the appropriate survival times (3, 7, 14 days, and 5 weeks), all mice were killed and the sciatic nerves and tibialis cranialis muscles were processed for immunohistochemistry and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Gait analysis, after sciatic nerve crushing, was performed in another set of mice (minimum of n = 8 per group), by using the walking track test (CatWalk system).


TLR4 mutant mice presented greater functional recovery as well as an enhanced p75NTR and neurofilament protein expression as compared to the wild-type strain. Moreover, the better functional recovery in mutant mice was correlated to a greater number of nerve terminal sprouts. Knockout mice for TLR2 exhibited 30 % greater number of degenerated axons in the distal stump of the sciatic nerve and a decreased p75NTR and neurofilament protein expression compared to the wild type. However, the absence of TLR2 receptor did not influence the overall functional recovery. End-point equivalent functional recovery in transgenic mice may be a result of enhanced axonal diameter found at 2 weeks after lesion.


Altogether, the present results indicate that the lack of TLR2 or the absence of functional TLR4 does affect the nerve regeneration process; however, such changes are minimized through different compensatory mechanisms, resulting in similar motor function recovery, as compared to wild-type mice. These findings contribute to the concept that innate immune-related molecules influence peripheral nerve regeneration by concurrently participating in processes taking place both at the CNS and PNS.
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