Disruption of axonal integrity during injury to the peripheral nerve system (PNS) sets into motion a cascade of responses that includes inflammation, Schwann cell mobilization, and the degeneration of the nerve fibers distal to the injury site. Yet, the injured PNS differentiates itself from the injured central nervous system (CNS) in its remarkable capacity for self-recovery, which, depending upon the length and type of nerve injury, involves a series of molecular events in both the injured neuron and associated Schwann cells that leads to axon regeneration, remyelination repair, and functional restitution. Herein we discuss the essential function of the second messenger, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cyclic AMP), in the PNS repair process, highlighting the important role the conditioning lesion paradigm has played in understanding the mechanism(s) by which cyclic AMP exerts its proregenerative action. Furthermore, we review the studies that have therapeutically targeted cyclic AMP to enhance endogenous nerve repair.
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