Axonal Sprouting in the Optic Nerve Is Not a Prerequisite for Successful Regeneration

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    Axonal sprouting, the production of axons additional to the parent one, occurs during optic nerve regeneration in goldfish and the frog Rana pipiens, with numbers of regenerate axons exceeding normal values four- to sixfold (Murray [1982] J. Comp. Neurol. 209:352–362; Stelzner and Strauss [1986] J. Comp. Neurol. 245:83–103). To determine whether axonal sprouting is a prerequisite for regeneration, the frog Litoria moorei was examined, a species that undergoes successful optic nerve regeneration but with a different time course compared with R. pipiens. Sprouting was assessed, as in goldfish and R. pipiens, from electron microscopic counts between the lesion and chiasm. However, disconnected axons that persist after axotomy would have falsely elevated the counts. The suspected overlap of these two axon populations was confirmed by labeling regenerate axons anterogradely with DiI (1,1′-dioctadecyl-3,3,3′,3′-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate) and disconnected ones retrogradely with DiA (4-4-dihexadecylaminostyrl 1-N methylpyridinium iodide). Numbers of disconnected axons were estimated after preventing regeneration and subtracted from numbers in regenerate nerves. Throughout, the total number of regenerate axons was approximately one third lower than normal (P <0.05) supporting a previous finding of minimal axonal sprouting in L. moorei (Dunlop et al. [2002] J. Comp. Neurol. 446:276–287). The validity of the subtractive electron microscopic method was confirmed by retrograde labeling to estimate numbers of retinal ganglion cells whose axons had crossed the lesion; values were approximately one third lower than normal. The data suggest that sprouting is not essential for either axon outgrowth or topographic map refinement. J. Comp. Neurol. 465:319–334, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)319-334
    JournalThe Journal of Comparative Neurology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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