A protein that helps keep a person from bleeding to death when cut or bruised also slows repair of nerve damage that results from injuries, according to a study with mice.
Wirelike nerve-cell extensions called axons run throughout the body. Most have a fatty sheath called myelin that acts as an insulator for the nerve's electrical charges. When a nerve is damaged, the axon is exposed to blood and its constituents, including the clotting agent fibrin. A team reports in the March 14 Neuron that mice made to lack fibrin, by genetic engineering or the administration of drugs, recover much more quickly from a crush injury to a leg nerve than mice with a normal supply of the protein do.
In peripheral nerves–those extending beyond the brain and spinal cord–the myelin that coats axons is made by Schwann cells. Peripheral nerves can recover from injury only after a constellation of compounds induces these caretaker cells to make more myelin.