Proteoglycans in the central nervous system play integral roles as "traffic signals" for the direction of neurite outgrowth. This attribute of proteoglycans is a major factor in regeneration of the injured central nervous system. In this review, the structures of proteoglycans and the evidence suggesting their involvement in the response following spinal cord injury are presented. The review further describes the methods routinely used to determine the effect proteoglycans have on neurite outgrowth. The effects of proteoglycans on neurite outgrowth are not completely understood as there is disagreement on what component of the molecule is interacting with growing neurites and this ambiguity is chronicled in an historical context. Finally, the most recent findings suggesting possible receptors, interactions, and sulfation patterns that may be important in eliciting the effect of proteoglycans on neurite outgrowth are discussed. A greater understanding of the proteoglycan-neurite interaction is necessary for successfully promoting regeneration in the injured central nervous system.

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Published in Neural Regeneration Research, v. 9, no. 4, p. 343-355.

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The study was supported by the NIH (NS53470), the Kentucky Spinal Cord and Head Injury Research Trust (#10-11A), and the Department of Defense, CDMRP (SC090248/W81XWH- 10-1-0778)

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