New insights into peripheral nerve regeneration: The role of secretomes

Estefania Contreras, Sara Bolívar, Xavier Navarro, Esther Udina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Neurons of the peripheral nervous system retain the intrinsic capability of regenerate their axons after injury, by triggering a complex activation response. This genetic switch is dependent of signals from the injured axon. Schwann cells (SCs) in the distal stump of an injured nerve also play an active role in the local regulation of axonal programs, by using cell-to-cell contacts but also secreted signals, the so-called secretome. Secretome contains all the proteins (cytokines, growth factors and others) secreted by the cell and includes extracellular vesicles. The released vesicles can transport signaling proteins and both coding and regulatory RNAs, thus facilitating multilevel communication. It is nowadays clear that secretome of SCs is fundamental to both orchestrate Wallerian degeneration and to sustain axonal regeneration. Therefore, the use of secretome has emerged as an alternative to cell therapy in the field of tissue regeneration. In fact, separate components of SC secretome have been extensively used in experimental models to enhance peripheral nerve regeneration after injury. However, the most used secretome in neural therapies has been the one derived from mesenchymal (MSC) or other derived stem cells. In fact, the effects of cell therapy with MSCs have been mainly associated with the secretion of bioactive molecules and extracellular vesicles, which constitute their secretome. In this review, we first describe the role of SC and macrophage secretomes on Wallerian degeneration and axonal regeneration after peripheral nerve injury. Then, we review the different works reported in the literature that have used secretomes of SCs or MSCs in the treatment of peripheral nerve injuries in experimental models, to highlight the use of secretomes as a promising cell-free therapeutic approach, that reduces some of the risks associated with the use of cells, such as tumor formation or rejection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114069
JournalExperimental Neurology
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Exosome
  • Macrophage
  • Mesenchymal stromal cell
  • Nerve regeneration
  • Schwann cell
  • Secretome


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