The advances in single-cell RNA sequencing technologies and the development of bioinformatics pipelines enable us to more accurately define the heterogeneity of cell types in a selected tissue. In this report, we re-analyzed recently published single-cell RNA sequencing data sets and provide a rationale to redefine the heterogeneity of cells in both intact and injured mouse peripheral nerves. Our analysis showed that, in both intact and injured peripheral nerves, cells could be functionally classified into four categories: Schwann cells, nerve fibroblasts, immune cells, and cells associated with blood vessels. Nerve fibroblasts could be sub-clustered into epineurial, perineurial, and endoneurial fibroblasts. Identified immune cell clusters include macrophages, mast cells, natural killer cells, T and B lymphocytes as well as an unreported cluster of neutrophils. Cells associated with blood vessels include endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells, and pericytes. We show that endothelial cells in the intact mouse sciatic nerve have three sub-types: epineurial, endoneurial, and lymphatic endothelial cells. Analysis of cell type-specific gene changes revealed that Schwann cells and endoneurial fibroblasts are the two most important cell types promoting peripheral nerve regeneration. Analysis of communication between these cells identified potential signals for early blood vessel regeneration, neutrophil recruitment of macrophages, and macrophages activating Schwann cells. Through this analysis, we also report appropriate marker genes for future single cell transcriptome data analysis to identify cell types in intact and injured peripheral nerves. The findings from our analysis could facilitate a better understanding of cell biology of peripheral nerves in homeostasis, regeneration, and disease.



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Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience





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School of Biomedical Sciences