Rose (Florence) Fricker, Research Associate in NDCN has been awarded the 2013 John W. Griffin Award at the 2013 Peripheral Nerve Society Biennial Meeting for her presentation on the Role of Neuregulin-1 in peripheral nerve injury.
The award is named after John W. (Jack) Griffin, former chair of neurology at John Hopkins medical school who, throughout his career, was at the forefront of both preclinical and translational research in peripheral neuropathy. An internationally renowned expert on diseases of the peripheral nervous system, he died in 2011. The John W. Griffin Award particularly recognises the work of early career scientists as he was so passionate about nurturing the training of young scientists.
In her presentation, Rose described the findings in Dr David Bennett’s group’s recent Brain publication. They used adult-inducible Neuregulin-1 mutant mice to explore the role of Neuregulin-1 following a peripheral nerve injury. The team found that Neuregulin-1 is not involved in the acute stages immediately after nerve injury including Schwann cell proliferation or macrophage recruitment nor in the clearance of myelin debris. However Neuregulin-1 is important in controlling the rate of re-myelination following nerve injury, and animals lacking Neruegulin-1 show much slower functional recovery. This is accompanied by transcriptional changes in genes associated with myelination.
Interestingly, after prolonged periods of time Neuregulin-1 mutants do recover, both in terms of the level of myelination and in functional outcomes. This work highlighted that although Neuregulin-1 plays a very important role in the repair of the peripheral nerve after injury it is not essential long term.