A rat model of slow Wallerian degeneration (WldS) with improved preservation of neuromuscular synapses

Eur J Neurosci. 2005 Jan;21(1):271-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2004.03833.x.


The slow Wallerian degeneration phenotype, Wld(S), which delays Wallerian degeneration and axon pathology for several weeks, has so far been studied only in mice. A rat model would have several advantages. First, rats model some human disorders better than mice. Second, the larger body size of rats facilitates more complex surgical manipulations. Third, rats provide a greater yield of tissue for primary culture and biochemical investigations. We generated transgenic Wld(S) rats expressing the Ube4b/Nmnat1 chimeric gene in the central and peripheral nervous system. As in Wld(S) mice, their axons survive up to 3 weeks after transection and remain functional for at least 1 week. Protection of axotomized nerve terminals is stronger than in mice, particularly in one line, where 95-100% of neuromuscular junctions remained intact and functional after 5 days. Furthermore, the loss of synaptic phenotype with age was much less in rats than in mice. Thus, the slow Wallerian degeneration phenotype can be transferred to another mammalian species and synapses may be more effectively preserved after axotomy in species with longer axons.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Axons / pathology
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Axotomy / methods
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Bungarotoxins / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission / methods
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neuromuscular Junction / metabolism
  • Neuromuscular Junction / pathology
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiopathology*
  • Neuromuscular Junction / ultrastructure
  • Pyridinium Compounds / metabolism
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Sciatic Neuropathy / complications
  • Sciatic Neuropathy / pathology
  • Sciatic Neuropathy / physiopathology
  • Time Factors
  • Wallerian Degeneration / etiology
  • Wallerian Degeneration / metabolism
  • Wallerian Degeneration / pathology
  • Wallerian Degeneration / physiopathology*


  • Bungarotoxins
  • FM1 43
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Pyridinium Compounds
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Wld protein, mouse