Schwann cells that envelop axons resemble epithelial cells in that they form a cellular boundary that has a foothold on basal lamina; this lamina separates the Schwann cell-axon units from the endoneurial extracellular matrix (ECM) components. Also like epithelial cells, it has been found recently (by using unique culture preparations) that Schwann cells manufacture ECM constituents. Moreover, secretion and also assembly of ECM components (which may induce polarization of the Schwann cell) are required for the development of normal Schwann cell function. Schwann cell secretion and perturbations in secretion that interfere with the expression of Schwann cell function are reviewed here.
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