, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 311-321

Prolonged survival of transected nerve fibres in C57BL/Ola mice is an intrinsic characteristic of the axon

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Transected axons in C57BL/Ola mice survive for extraordinary lengths of time as compared to those of normal rodents. The biological difference in the substrain that confers the phenotype of prolonged axonal survival is unknown. Previous studies suggest the ‘defect’ to be a property of the nervous system itself, rather than one of haematogenous cells. Neuronal or non-neuronal elements could be responsible for this phenotype. This study was undertaken to determine whether Schwann cells, the most numerous of the non-neuronal cells intrinsic to the peripheral nerve, are responsible for delayed degeneration of transected axons. We created sciatic nerve chimeras by transplanting nerve segments between standard C57BL/6 and C57BL/Ola mice, allowing regeneration of host axons through the grafts containing donor Schwann cells. These nerves were then transected and the time course of axonal degeneration was observed. The results show that fast or slow degeneration is a property conferred by the host, and therefore cannot be ascribed to the Schwann cells. Similarly, transected C57BL/Ola axons in explanted dorsal root ganglia cultures survived longer than transected axons from standard mice. Taken together these results indicate that the responsible abnormality is intrinsic to the C57BL/Ola axon.