Under normal circumstances peripheral nerves maintain stable conÂ nections with their targets throughout the life of an animal. Despite this appearance of stability, many of the cellular behaviors associated with growth persist in mature neurons: They may continuously remodel their connections (Purves& Voyvodic 1987), produce and transport to the nerve terminal many of the molecules needed for nerve growth (Lasek et aI1984); and they elongate considerably during body growth. On injury, nerve fibers distal to the lesion degenerate by the process known as Wallerian degeneration, and the neurons reinitiate axonal growth with its attendant metabolic changes. The cellular processes underlying degeneration and regeneration are the subject of this review. WALLERIAN DEGENERATION An extensive literature now exists detailing the various molecular and morphological changes that take place in the distal stump following axotomy, and it is not intended to reiterate all these here (for review see Hallpike 1976, Allt 1976). Wallerian degeneration leads to the removal and recycling of axonal and myelin-derived material, and prepares the environment through which regenerating axons grow. Both the axon and the myelin degenerate, leaving behind dividing Schwann cells inside the basal lamina tube that surrounded the original nerve fiber; these columns of Schwann
Annual Review of Neuroscience – Annual Reviews
Published: Mar 1, 1990
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