Sympathetic nerves can regenerate after injury to reinnervate target tissues. Sympathetic regeneration is well documented after chronic cardiac ischemia, so we were surprised that the cardiac infarct remained denervated following ischemia-reperfusion (I-R).Weused mice to ask if the lack of sympathetic regeneration into the scar was due to blockade by inhibitory extracellular matrix within the infarct. We found that chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) were present in the infarct after I-R, but not after chronic ischemia, and that CSPGs caused inhibition of sympathetic axon outgrowth in vitro. Ventricle explants after I-R and chronic ischemia stimulated sympathetic axon outgrowth that was blocked by nerve growth factor antibodies. However, growth in I-R cocultures was asymmetrical, with axons growing toward the heart tissue consistently shorter than axons growing in other directions. Growth toward I-R explants was rescued by adding chondroitinase ABC to the cocultures, suggesting that I-R infarct-derived CSPGs prevented axon extension. Sympathetic ganglia lacking protein tyrosine phosphatase sigma (PTPRS) were not inhibited by CSPGs or I-R explants in vitro, suggesting PTPRS is the major CSPG receptor in sympathetic neurons. To test directly if infarct-derived CSPGs prevented cardiac reinnervation, we performed I-R in ptprs-/- and ptprs+/- mice. Cardiac infarcts in ptprs-/- mice were hyperinnervated, while infarcts in ptprs+/- littermates were denervated, confirming that CSPGs prevent sympathetic reinnervation of the cardiac scar after I-R. This is the first example of CSPGs preventing sympathetic reinnervation of an autonomic target following injury, and may have important consequences for cardiac function and arrhythmia susceptibility after myocardial infarction.
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