Schwann cells (SCs) are supporting cells of the peripheral nervous system and were first described by Theodor Schwann in 1839. In general, SCs can be classified in myelinating and non-myelinating SCs. They provide trophic and structural support of peripheral neurons and play a pivotal role in regeneration after injury. Recent reports suggest that in response to injury or infection (e.g. with Leprosy Bacilli) they dedifferntiate into plastic NCSC-like state allowing them to generate neurons, glial and mesenchymal cell types.

Fig. 1 Both - myelinating and non-myelinating Schwann cells can be reprogrammed towards a neural crest stem cell-like phenotype by lesion of removal of their niche (injury mimicry).


We were able to show that mouse and rat derived myelinating and non-myelinating SCs are able to acquire NCSCs-like phenotype after removal from their niche and in vitro cultivation under appropriate conditions.

Currently, we want to understand how the process of dedifferentiation is regulated at molecular level. Importantly, a deep understanding of the cellular reprogramming of SCs will provide the option to use this cell type as a novel, ethically unquestionable stem-like cell type for treatment of degenerative disorders in humans.



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