It appears injury and repair are the yin and yang of healing. Injury may be necessary for nerve regeneration to occur, at least in mice. Talk about neural learning! So injuries (from a neurological perspective) may be a good thing! Perhaps this is why acupuncture, dry needling and intramuscular therapy work so well for these conditions. ( Watch for a Live Gait Guys course in dry needling and intramuscular stimulation this fall in Chicago and Denver!)
A protein abbreviated DLK (which stands for dual leucine zipper kinase) apparently is necessary to activate nerve regeneration after an injury.
“DLK is a key molecule linking an injury to the nerve’s response to that injury, allowing the nerve to regenerate,” says Aaron DiAntonio, MD, PhD, professor of developmental biology. “How does an injured nerve know that it is injured? How does it take that information and turn on a regenerative program and regrow connections? And why does only the peripheral nervous system respond this way, while the central nervous system does not? We think DLK is part of the answer.”
Most injuries have a neurological component, whether it be the inflammatory process, a change in muscle tone or activity, the perception of pain or proprioceptive abnormality. If this mechanism is not triggered, the nervous system may not heal. This may provide clues as to why nerve injuries heal so slowly or are less responsive. Learning more about this protein may provide clues and answers to this commonly encountered dilemma.
The original paper was published in Neuron and a nice summary can be found here.
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