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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2012, Article ID 171636, 11 pages
Review Article

Neural and Molecular Features on Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Plasticity and Therapy

1Unidad de Genética y Medicina Molecular, Instituto de Biomedicina de Valencia, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Jaume Roig 11, 46010 Valencia, Spain
2CIBER de Enfermedades Raras (CIBERER), ISCIII, 46010 Valencia, Spain
3Faculty of Medicine, University of Castilla-La Mancha, 13071 Ciudad Real, Spain

Received 2 March 2012; Accepted 16 April 2012

Academic Editor: Laurie Doering

Copyright © 2012 Paula Juárez and Francesc Palau. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the peripheral nervous system disorders plasticity is related to changes on the axon and Schwann cell biology, and the synaptic formations and connections, which could be also a focus for therapeutic research. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) represents a large group of inherited peripheral neuropathies that involve mainly both motor and sensory nerves and induce muscular atrophy and weakness. Genetic analysis has identified several pathways and molecular mechanisms involving myelin structure and proper nerve myelination, transcriptional regulation, protein turnover, vesicle trafficking, axonal transport and mitochondrial dynamics. These pathogenic mechanisms affect the continuous signaling and dialogue between the Schwann cell and the axon, having as final result the loss of myelin and nerve maintenance; however, some late onset axonal CMT neuropathies are a consequence of Schwann cell specific changes not affecting myelin. Comprehension of molecular pathways involved in Schwann cell-axonal interactions is likely not only to increase the understanding of nerve biology but also to identify the molecular targets and cell pathways to design novel therapeutic approaches for inherited neuropathies but also for most common peripheral neuropathies. These approaches should improve the plasticity of the synaptic connections at the neuromuscular junction and regenerate cell viability based on improving myelin and axon interaction.