Midgestational sciatic nerve transection in fetal sheep results in absent nerve regeneration and neurogenic muscle atrophy.


Journal Article

In order to test whether fetal nerve healing and regeneration result in complete functional recovery, we transected the sciatic nerve at trunk level in 13 midgestational sheep fetuses. In 10 fetuses immediate microsurgical nerve coaptation was performed. The neonatal lambs were evaluated clinically, electrophysiologically, and histologically. On the transected side, the 10 surviving lambs showed a sensorimotor sciatic nerve paralysis and atrophy of the muscles innervated by the sciatic nerve. Somatosensory evoked potentials were weakly present in 5 animals and absent in 5 animals. Histologically, minimal signs of axonal regeneration, massive degeneration of the entire nerve, and a marked neurogenic muscle atrophy were found. These unexpected results differ from the findings after peripheral nerve transections in late gestational sheep fetuses and also from the classic wallerian degeneration-regeneration pattern that follows adult nerve injury. We speculate that the almost absent regenerative potential at midgestation is related to axotomy-induced neurotrophic factor deprivation during a developmental phase where the neurons are critically dependent on growth factor for survival.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Meuli-Simmen, C; Meuli, M; Yingling, CD; Eiman, T; Timmel, GB; Buncke, HJ; Lineaweaver, W; Harrison, MR; Adzick, NS

Published Date

  • February 1997

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 99 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 486 - 492

PubMed ID

  • 9030159

Pubmed Central ID

  • 9030159

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1529-4242

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0032-1052

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/00006534-199702000-00026


  • eng