, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 497-512

The degeneration of unmyelinated axons following nerve section: An ultrastructural study

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Observations have been made on the ultrastructural changes that occur in the cervical and abdominal portions of the rabbit vagus nerve following transection. The axonal changes are similar to those that occur during the degeneration of myelinated axons and all axons degenerate completely within 7 days. This time course correlates closely with previous electrophysiological observations. The degeneration of the axons takes place external to the Schwann cells, but these cells tend to react by surrounding the degenerating axons with multiple flattened processes. This debris is removed both by Schwann cells and macrophages. Most of the degenerate material has disappeared by 15 days after transection. Compact columns of Schwann cells analogous to the bands of Büngner are not formed.