A cellular sheath, the perineurium, forms a protective barrier around fascicles of nerve fibers throughout the peripheral nervous system. In a study to determine the cellular origin of perineurium, a culture system was used in which perineurium forms after purified populations of sensory neurons, Schwann cells, and fibroblasts are recombined. Before recombination, the Schwann cells or the fibroblasts were labeled by infection with a defective recombinant retrovirus whose gene product, β-galactosidase, is histochemically detectable in the progeny of infected cells. Perineurial cells were labeled when fibroblasts had been infected but not when Schwann cells had been infected. Thus, perineurium arises from fibroblasts in vitro and, by implication, in vivo as well.
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