The study of extracellular matrix (ECM) in the nervous system has longed been focused on the molecules promoting growth and migration. This is well supported by the work in the developing nervous system. However, the discovery of Nogo and chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPGs) in the injured nervous system in late 1980s has shifted some of the focus to inhibitory molecules. One of the biggest hurdles in neural regeneration is the formation of glial scar and the highly up-regulated inhibitory molecules present in the area. Apart from Nogo and CSPGs, other myelin-associated inhibitors, tenascins and semaphorins have been found associated with neuronal inhibition. Together with the identification of their receptors, we now have a better understanding on the mechanism of how these molecules control and limit regeneration in the central nervous system (CNS). Recent focus has been put on designing strategies in neutralizing these inhibitions for promoting regeneration after injury, and some are showing promising results. Moreover, latest studies also show that rehabilitation in injured animal models demonstrated drastic remodeling of ECM favoring regeneration. This review shall discuss all these different aspects and the importance of matrix remodeling in the CNS and the implication of ECM in some retinal pathologies.
Part of the book: Composition and Function of the Extracellular Matrix in the Human Body