Systemic loss of Sarm1 protects Schwann cells from chemotoxicity by delaying axon degeneration

Weili Tian, Tim Czopka, Hernán López-Schier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Protecting the nervous system from chronic effects of physical and chemical stress is a pressing clinical challenge. The obligate pro-degenerative protein Sarm1 is essential for Wallerian axon degeneration. Thus, blocking Sarm1 function is emerging as a promising neuroprotective strategy with therapeutic relevance. Yet, the conditions that will most benefit from inhibiting Sarm1 remain undefined. Here we combine genome engineering, pharmacology and high-resolution intravital videmicroscopy in zebrafish to show that genetic elimination of Sarm1 increases Schwann-cell resistance to toxicity by diverse chemotherapeutic agents after axonal injury. Synthetic degradation of Sarm1-deficient axons reversed this effect, suggesting that glioprotection is a non-autonomous effect of delayed axon degeneration. Moreover, loss of Sarm1 does not affect macrophage recruitment to nerve-wound microenvironment, injury resolution, or neural-circuit repair. These findings anticipate that interventions aimed at inhibiting Sarm1 can counter heightened glial vulnerability to chemical stressors and may be an effective strategy to reduce chronic consequences of neurotrauma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49
JournalCommunications biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2020


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