Myelin pp 81-93 | Cite as

Isolation and Purification of Primary Rodent Schwann Cells

  • Marta Palomo Irigoyen
  • Miguel Tamayo Caro
  • Encarnacion Pérez Andrés
  • Adrián Barreira Manrique
  • Marta Varela Rey
  • Ashwin WoodhooEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1791)


Schwann cells are the main glial cells of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and play key roles in peripheral nerve development and function, including providing myelin that is essential for normal movement and sensation in the adult. Schwann cells can be readily destabilized by a wide variety of distinct conditions that range from nerve injury to immune assaults, metabolic disturbances, microbial infections, or genetic defects, leading to the breakdown of myelin (demyelination) and a subsequent switch in phenotypic states. This striking feature of Schwann cells forms the cornerstone of several debilitating and even fatal PNS neurological disorders that include the demyelinating neuropathies Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS) and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), and PNS cancers, including Neurofibromatosis.

Primary Schwann cell cultures have proved a valuable tool to dissect key mechanisms that regulate proliferation, survival, differentiation, and myelination of these glial cell types. In this chapter, we describe the steps involved in the isolation and purification of Schwann cells from rodent peripheral nerves and the use of these cultures to model myelination in vitro.

Key words

Schwann cell Sciatic nerve Brachial plexus Cyclic adenosine monophosphate Myelination Demyelination 



AW is grateful for the support of the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad–Plan Nacional de I+D+I (Subprograma Ramón y Cajal RYC2010-06901; Proyectos Retos Investigación SAF2015-65360-R; Proyectos Explora Ciencia SAF2015-72416-EXP; Proyectos Europa Excelencia SAF2015-62588-ERC), the BBVA foundation and Ikerbasque Foundation. MP is grateful for the support of the Basque Government of Education fellowship. MT is grateful for the support of the “Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores” from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. MVR is grateful for the support of a 2017 Leonardo Grant for Researchers and Cultural Creators, BBVA Foundation. CIBERehd is funded by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III. We thank MINECO for the Severo Ochoa Excellence Accreditation (SEV-2016-0644).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Palomo Irigoyen
    • 1
  • Miguel Tamayo Caro
    • 1
  • Encarnacion Pérez Andrés
    • 1
  • Adrián Barreira Manrique
    • 1
  • Marta Varela Rey
    • 2
  • Ashwin Woodhoo
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Nerve Disorders LaboratoryCIC bioGUNEDerioSpain
  2. 2.Liver disease Laboratory, Liver metabolism LaboratoryCIC bioGUNE, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Hepáticas y Digestivas (CIBERehd)DerioSpain
  3. 3.Nerve Disorders LaboratoryCIC bioGUNEDerioSpain
  4. 4.IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for ScienceBilbaoSpain

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