Immunosuppressant FK506 promotes neurite outgrowth in cultures of PC12 cells and sensory ganglia

W. Ernest Lyons, Edwin B. Georoe, Ted M. Dawson, Joseph P. Steiner, Solomon H. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The immunosuppressant drug FK506 acts by binding to receptor proteins, FK506-binding proteins (FKBPs), which in turn can bind to and regulate a Ca2+-dependent phosphatase, calcineurin, and a Ca2+ release channel, the ryanodine receptor. Based on our findings in regeneration models that levels of FKBPs during neural regeneration parallel those of growth-associated protein GAP43, a calcineurin substrate that regulates neurite extension, we examined effects of FK506 in PC12 rat pheochromocytoma cells and in rat sensory ganglia. FK506 enhances neurite outgrowth in both systems by increasing sensitivity to nerve growth factor. Blockade of FK506 actions in sensory ganglia by rapamycin, an FK506 antagonist, establishes that these effects involve FKBPs. Rapamycin itself stimulates neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells. These drug effects are detected at subnanomolar concentrations, suggesting therapeutic application in diseases involving neural degeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3191-3195
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 12 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • cyclophilin
  • immunophilin
  • nerve growth factor
  • neural regeneration
  • neurodegeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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