Non-essential amino acid L-serine functions as a highly potent, glia-derived neurotrophic factor, because it is a precursor for syntheses of proteins, other amino acids, membrane lipids, and nucleotides, and also because its biosynthetic enzyme 3-phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (3PGDH) is preferentially expressed in particular glial cells within the brain. Here we pursued 3PGDH expression in peripheral nerves and its change after crush injury. In the pathway of rat sciatic nerves, 3PGDH was selectively expressed in non-neuronal elements: Schwann sheaths and endoneurial fibroblasts in sciatic nerves, satellite cells in dorsal root ganglia, and astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the spinal ventral horn. In contrast, 3PGDH was immunonegative in axons, somata of spinal motoneurons and ganglion cells, and endoneurial macrophages. One week after crush injury, 3PGDH was upregulated in the distal segment of injured nerves, where 3PGDH was intensified in activated Schwann cells and fibroblasts. 3PGDH was still negative in activated macrophages, which were instead associated or surrounded by activated Schwann cells with intensified 3PGDH. These results suggest that in the peripheral nervous system, these non-neuronal cells synthesize and may supply L-serine to satisfy metabolic demands for maintenance and regeneration of peripheral nerves and for proliferation and activation of macrophages upon nerve injury.
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