Absence of Wallerian Degeneration does not Hinder Regeneration in Peripheral Nerve

Eur J Neurosci. 1989;1(1):27-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.1989.tb00771.x.


Wallerian degeneration of the distal stump of a severed peripheral nerve involves invasion by myelomonocytic cells, whose presence is necessary for destruction of myelin and for initiating mitosis in Schwann cells (Beuche and Friede, 1984). Degeneration of the distal ends of the axons themselves is assumed to occur by autolytic mechanisms. We describe a strain of mice (C57BL/6/Ola) in which leucocyte invasion is slow and sparse. In these mice, confirming Beuche and Friede, myelin removal is extremely slow. A new finding is that axon degeneration is also very slow. This is a consequence of lack of recruitment of myelomonocytic cells for if such recruitment is prevented in other mouse strains by a monoclonal antibody against the complement type 3 receptor (Rosen and Gordon, 1987) axon degeneration is again slowed. We have also, surprisingly, found that nerve regeneration in the C57BL/6/Ola mice is not impeded by the presence of largely intact axons in the distal stump and absence of recruited cells, myelin debris and the absence of Schwann cell mitosis.