Journal of Neurocytology

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 497–512 | Cite as

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

  • P. K. Thomas
  • R. H. M. King
Article

Summary

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.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abercrombie, M., Evans, D. H. L. andMurray, J. G. (1959) Nuclear multiplication and cell migration in degenerating unmyelinated nerve fibres.Journal of Anatomy (London) 93, 9–14.Google Scholar
  2. Aguayo, A. J., Peyronnard, J. M. andBray, G. M. (1973) A quantitative ultrastructural study of regeneration from isolated proximal stumps of transected unmyelinated nerves.Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 32, 256–70.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Allt, G. (1972) Involvement of the perineurium in experimental allergic neuritis: electron microscope observations.Acta Neuropathologica (Berlin) 20, 139–49.Google Scholar
  4. Ballin, R. H. M. andThomas, P. K. (1969) Changes at the nodes of Ranvier during Wallerian degeneration: an electron microscope study.Acta Neuropathologica (Berlin) 14, 237–49.Google Scholar
  5. Berger, B. (1971) Etude ultrastructurale de la dégénérescence Wallérienne experimentale d'un nerf entiérement amyélinique; le nerf olfactif. I. Modifications axonales.Journal of Ultrastructure Research 37, 105–18.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bray, G. M., Peyronnard, J.-M. andAguayo, A. J. (1972) Reactions of unmyelinated nerve fibres to injury. An ultrastructural study.Brain Research 42, 297–309.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Cajal, S. R. (1928)Degeneration and Regeneration of the Nervous System (English Edition). London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Calabretta, A. M., Munger, B. L. andGraham, W. P. (1973) The ultrastructure of degenerating rat sciatic nerves.Journal of Surgical Research 14, 465–71.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Cragg, B. G. (1965) Failure of conduction and of synaptic transmission in degenerating mammalian C fibres.Journal of Physiology (London) 179, 95–112.Google Scholar
  10. Dyck, P. J. andHopkins, A. P. (1972) Electron microscope observations on degeneration and regeneration of unmyelinated fibres.Brain 95, 223–34.Google Scholar
  11. Evans, D. H. L. andMurray, J. G. (1954) Histological and functional studies on the fibre composition of the vagus nerve in the rabbit.Journal of Anatomy (London) 88, 320–37.Google Scholar
  12. Fisher, E. R. andTurano, A. (1963) Schwann cells in Wallerian degeneration.Archives of Pathology (Chicago) 75, 517–27.Google Scholar
  13. Friede, R. L. (1964) Electrophoretic production of ‘reactive’ axon swellingsin vitro and their histochemical properties.Acta Neuropathologica (Berlin) 3, 217–28.Google Scholar
  14. Friede, R. L. andMartinez, A. J. (1970) Analysis of axon sheath relations during early Wallerian degeneration.Brain Research 19, 199–212.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Gamble, H. J. andJha, B. D. (1958) Some effects of temperature upon the rate and progress of Wallerian degeneration in mammalian nerve fibres.Journal of Anatomy (London) 92, 171–77.Google Scholar
  16. Gilliatt, R. W. andHjorth, R. J. (1972) Nerve conduction during Wallerian degeneration in the baboon.Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 35, 335–41.Google Scholar
  17. Honjin, R., Nakamura, T. andImura, M. (1959) Electron microscopy of peripheral nerve fibres. III. On the axoplasmic changes during Wallerian degeneration.Okajimas Folia Anatomicajaponica,33, 131–56.Google Scholar
  18. Hunt, C. C. andNelson, P. G. (1965) Structural and functional changes in the frog sympathetic ganglion following cutting of the presynaptic nerve fibres.Journal of Physiology (London) 177, 1–20.Google Scholar
  19. Iwayama, T. (1970) Ultrastructural changes in the nerves innervating the cerebral artery after sympathectomy.Zeitschrift für Zellforschung und mikroskopische Anatomie 109, 465–80.Google Scholar
  20. Joseph, J. (1950) Further studies in changes of nuclear population in degenerating non-myelinated and finely myelinated nerves.Acta Anatomica 9, 279–88.Google Scholar
  21. Kapeller, K. andMayor, D. (1969) An electron microscope study of the early changes distal to a constriction in sympathetic nerve.Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 172, 53–63.Google Scholar
  22. Karnovsky, M. J. (1965) A formaldehyde-glutaraldehyde fixative of high osmolality for use in electron microscopy.Journal of Cell Biology 27, 137A.Google Scholar
  23. King, R. H. M. andThomas, P. K. (1971) Electron microscope observations on aberrant regeneration of unmyelinated axons in the vagus nerve of the rabbit.Acta Neuropathologica (Berlin) 18, 150–59.Google Scholar
  24. Lampert, P. W. andSchochet, S. S. (1968) Demyelination and remyelination in lead neuropathy.Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 27, 527–45.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Lee, J. C.-Y. (1963) Electron microscopy of Wallerian degeneration.Journal of Comparative Neurology 120, 65–79.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Matthews, M. R. (1973) An ultrastructural study of axonal changes following constriction of postganglionic branches of the superior cervical ganglion in the rat.Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, B 264, 479–508.Google Scholar
  27. Miledi, R. andSlater, C. R. (1970) On the degeneration of rat neuromuscular junctions after nerve section.Journal of Physiology (London) 207, 507–28.Google Scholar
  28. Mire, J. J., Hendelman, W. J. andBunge, R. P. (1970) Observations on a transient phase of focal swelling in degenerating unmyelinated nerve fibres.Journal of Cell Biology 45, 9–22.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Nathaniel, E. J. H. andPease, D. C. (1963) Degenerative changes in rat dorsal roots during Wallerian degeneration.Journal of Ultrastructure Research 9, 511–32.Google Scholar
  30. Ochoa, J. andMair, W. G. P. (1969) The normal sural nerve in man. II. Changes in the axons and Schwann cells due to ageing.Acta Neuropathologica (Berlin) 13, 217–39.Google Scholar
  31. Ochoa, J. andVial, J. D. (1967) Behaviour of peripheral nerve structures in chronic neuropathies, with special reference to the Schwann cell.Journal of Anatomy 102, 95–111.Google Scholar
  32. Roth, C. D. andRichardson, K. C. (1969) Electron microscopical studies on axonal degeneration in the rat iris following ganglionectomy.American Journal of Anatomy 124, 341–59.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Singer, M. andSteinberg, M. C. (1972) Wallerian degeneration: a reevaluation based on transected and colchicine-poisoned nerves in the amphibian,Triturus.American Journal of Anatomy 133, 51–84.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Taxi, J. (1959) Etude au microscope électronique de la dégénérescence Wallérienne des fibres amyéliniques.Comptes Rendus de l' Académie des Sciences, Paris 248, 135–45.Google Scholar
  35. Taxi, J. (1971) Personal communication.Google Scholar
  36. Thomas, P. K., King, R. H. M. andPhelps, A. C. (1972) Electron microscope observations on the degeneration of unmyelinated fibres following nerve section.Journal of Anatomy 113, 277–78.Google Scholar
  37. Tuckett, I. L. (1896) On the structure and degeneration of non-medullated nerve fibres.Journal of Physiology (London) 19, 267–311.Google Scholar
  38. Vial, J. D. (1958) The early changes in the axon during Wallerian degeneration.Journal of Biochemical and Biophysical Cytology 4, 551–56.Google Scholar
  39. Webster, H. De F. (1962) Transient, focal accumulation of axonal mitochondria during the early stages of Wallerian degeneration.Journal of Cell Biology 12, 361–83.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Zelená, J., Lubinska, L. andGutmann, E. (1968) Accumulation of organelles at ends of interrupted axons.Zeitschrift für Zellforschung und mikroskopische Anatomie 91, 200–19.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. K. Thomas
    • 1
  • R. H. M. King
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurologyRoyal Free HospitalLondonEngland

Personalised recommendations