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Sarm1 knockout protects against early but not late axonal degeneration in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis

Viar, K;Njoku, D;Secor McVoy, J;Oh, U;

Programmed axonal degeneration, also known as Wallerian degeneration, occurs in immune-mediated central nervous system (CNS) inflammatory disorders such as multiple sclerosis and the animal model experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). Sterile alpha and TIR domain containing protein 1 (SARM1) functions to promote programmed axonal degeneration. To test the hypothesis that loss of SARM1 will reduce axonal degeneration in immune-mediated CNS inflammatory disorders, the course and pathology of EAE was compared in Sarm1 knockout mice and wild type littermates. The clinical course of EAE was similar in Sarm1 knockout and wild type. Analysis of EAE in mice expressing neuronal yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) showed significantly less axonal degeneration in Sarm1 knockout mice compared to wild type littermates at 14 days post-induction of EAE. At 21 days post-induction, however, difference in axonal degeneration was not significant. At 42 days post-induction, Sarm1 knockout mice were indistinguishable from wild type with respect to markers of axonal injury, and were similar with respect to axonal density in the lumbar cords. There was no significant change in peripheral immune activation or CNS inflammatory cell infiltration associated with EAE in Sarm1 knockout mice. In conclusion, Sarm1 deletion delayed axonal degeneration early in the course of CNS inflammation, but did not confer long-term protection from axonal degeneration in an animal model of immune-mediated CNS inflammation.