Responses to amputation of denervated ambystoma limbs containing aneurogenic limb grafts

J Exp Zool A Comp Exp Biol. 2003 May 1;297(1):64-79. doi: 10.1002/jez.a.10263.


The developing neural tubes and associated neural crest cells were removed from stage 30 Ambystoma maculatum embryos to obtain larvae with aneurogenic forelimbs. Forelimbs were allowed to develop to late 3 digit or early 4 digit stages. Limbs amputated through the mid radius-ulna regenerated typically in the aneurogenic condition. Experiments were designed to test whether grafts of aneurogenic limb tissues would rescue denervated host limb stumps into a regeneration response. In Experiment 1, aneurogenic limbs were removed at the body wall and grafted under the dorsal skin of the distal end of amputated forelimbs of control, normally innervated limbs of locally collected Ambystoma maculatum or axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) larvae. In Experiment 1, at the time of grafting or 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, or 8 days after grafting, aneurogenic limbs were amputated level with the original host stump. At 7 and 8 days, this amputation included removing the host blastema adjacent to the graft. The host limb was denervated either one day after grafting or on the day of graft amputation. These chimeric limbs only infrequently exhibited delayed blastema formation. Thus, not only did the graft not rescue the host, denervated limb, but the aneurogenic limb tissues themselves could not mount a regeneration response. In Experiment 2, the grafted aneurogenic limb was amputated through its mid-stylopodium at 3, 4, 5, 7, or 8 days after grafting. By 7 and 8 days after grafting, the host limb stump exhibited blastema formation even with the graft extending out from under the dorsal skin. The host limb was denervated at the time of graft amputation. When graft limbs of Experiment 2 were amputated and host limbs were denervated on days 3, 4, or 5, host regeneration did not progress and graft regeneration did not occur. But, when graft limbs were amputated on days 7 or 8 with concomitant denervation of the host limb, regeneration of the host continued and graft regeneration occurred. Thus, regeneration of the graft was correlated with acquisition of nerve-independence by the host limb blastema. In Experiment 3, aneurogenic limbs were grafted with minimal injury to the dorsal skin of neurogenic hosts. When neurogenic host limbs were denervated and the aneurogenic limbs were amputated through the radius/ulna, regeneration of the aneurogenic limb occurred if the neurogenic limb host was not amputated, but did not occur if the neurogenic limb host was amputated. Results of Experiment 3 indicate that the inhibition of aneurogenic graft limb regeneration on a denervated host limb is correlated with substantial injury to the host limb. In Experiment 4, aneurogenic forelimbs were amputated through the mid-radius ulna and pieces of either peripheral nerve, muscle, blood vessel, or cartilage were grafted into the distal limb stump or under the body skin immediately adjacent to the limb at the body wall. In most cases, peripheral nerve inhibited regeneration, blood vessel tissue sometimes inhibited, but other tissues had no effect on regeneration. Taken together, the results suggest: (1) Aneurogenic limb tissues do not produce the neurotrophic factor and do not need it for regeneration, and (2) there is a regeneration-inhibiting factor produced by the nerve-dependent limb stump/blastema after denervation that prevents regeneration of aneurogenic limbs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ambystoma / embryology*
  • Ambystoma / physiology*
  • Amputation*
  • Animals
  • Denervation*
  • Forelimb / cytology
  • Forelimb / embryology
  • Forelimb / innervation*
  • Forelimb / transplantation*
  • Larva / physiology
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Nerve Regeneration*


  • Nerve Growth Factors