Nerve regeneration in diabetic animals is delayed and qualitatively impaired, but the mechanisms responsible for these defects have not been elucidated. The extracellular matrix protein laminin promotes the extension of neuronal processes, and recent studies have localized neurite-promoting activity to a lysine-containing sequence (IKVAV) within the laminin molecule. Because long-lived molecules such as laminin are likely to accumulate excessive amounts of nonenzymatic glycosylation products in diabetic subjects, we have investigated whether such adduct formation on laminin or the IKVAV peptide affects their neurite-promoting properties. These studies used the murine neuroblastoma cell line NB2a, which extends neurites on laminin when differentiated by cAMP. Neurite outgrowth in NB2a cells plated on glycosylated laminin was significantly decreased from that occurring on unmodified laminin. Similarly, neurite outgrowth in NB2a cells plated on glycosylated IKVAV peptide was inhibited compared with that observed on native IKVAV. These data suggest that nonenzymatic glycosylation of a biologically active domain within laminin may contribute to impaired nerve regeneration in diabetes.

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