Increasing Calcium Level Limits Schwann Cell Numbers In Vitro following Peripheral Nerve Injury

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After peripheral nerve injury, there is an increase in calcium concentration in the injured nerves. Our previous publications have shown that increase in calcium concentration correlated well with degree of nerve injury and that local infusion of calcitonin has a beneficial effect on nerve recovery. Schwann cells play a pivotal role in regeneration and recovery. We aim to examine cultured Schwann cell survivals in various concentrations of calcium-containing growth media and the effect of calcitonin in such media.


To establish baseline in postinjury state, crush injury was induced in male Sprague-Dawley rats' sciatic nerves. Extra- and intraneural calcium concentrations were measured. To study Schwann cell survival, uninjured sciatic nerve segment was harvested and cultured in media containing various amounts of calcium. To study the effect of calcitonin, nerve harvest and culture were done in four additional media: (1) normal control, (2) normal control with calcitonin, (3) high calcium medium, and (4) high calcium medium with calcitonin. Schwann cells were studied and analyzed under fluorescent conditions.


With increasing calcium concentration, there was a significant decrease in the number of Schwann cells. For the experimental groups, in which calcitonin had been added to the growth medium, there were similar amounts of Schwann cells present in both high and low calcium-containing medium.


Schwann cells are sensitive to increasing calcium concentration. Calcitonin counteracts the detrimental effects of high calcium on Schwann cell survival. This can have significant future clinical implications for patients with peripheral nerve injuries.

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