Motor neuron target selectivity and survival after prolonged axotomy.
PURPOSE: After a cut peripheral nerve is repaired, motor neurons usually regenerate across the lesion site, however they often enter an inappropriate Schwann cell tube and may be directed to an inappropriate target organ such as skin, resulting in continued loss of function. In fact, only about 10% of adults who receive a peripheral nerve repair display full functional recovery. The reasons for this are many and complex, however one aspect is whether the motor neuron has undergone a prolonged period of axotomy prior to nerve repair. Previous studies have suggested a deleterious effect of prolonged axotomy. METHODS: We examined the influence of prolonged axotomy on target selectivity using a cross-reinnervation model of rat obturator motor neurons regrowing into the distal femoral nerve, with its normal bifurcating pathways to muscle and skin. RESULTS: Surprisingly, we found that a prolonged period of axotomy resulted in an increase in motor neuron regeneration accuracy. In addition, we found that regeneration accuracy could be increased even further by a simple surgical manipulation of the distal terminal nerve pathway to skin. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that under certain conditions prolonged axotomy may not be detrimental to the final accuracy of motor neuron regeneration and highlight that a simple manipulation of terminal nerve pathways may be one approach to increase such regeneration accuracy.
Robinson, GA; Madison, RD
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