Developmentally regulated changes in femoral nerve regeneration in the mouse and rat.
The attractive influence of muscle on regenerating motor neuron axons is well-known. Less is known, however, about the intrinsic abilities of different nerve pathways to support these axons prior to end-organ contact. The age at which a nerve injury is sustained is also known to affect the relationship between regenerating motor axons and muscle. The femoral nerve model, with its distinct muscle and cutaneous pathways, is ideal to study intrinsic pathway properties because the influence of end-organs can easily be removed surgically. However, recent results using this model in adult mice are at odds with the same model in neonatal rats. To reconcile these discrepancies, we used the femoral nerve model to examine possible age differences in intrinsic pathway support for regenerating motor neurons in the mouse and rat. Rat motor neurons showed a preference to regenerate into the muscle pathway after axotomy at 3 weeks of age, but this preference was lost after axotomy at 6 weeks of age. Interestingly, mouse motor neurons showed no pathway preference after axotomy at 3 weeks of age but developed one for the cutaneous pathway after axotomy at 6 weeks of age. These results suggest that in the absence of end-organ contact there is no general preference for motor neurons to project to the muscle pathway.
Robinson, GA; Madison, RD
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