Why is Wallerian degeneration in the CNS so slow?

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2007;30:153-79. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.30.051606.094354.


Wallerian degeneration (WD) is the set of molecular and cellular events by which degenerating axons and myelin are cleared after injury. Why WD is rapid and robust in the PNS but slow and incomplete in the CNS is a longstanding mystery. Here we review current work on the mechanisms of WD with an emphasis on deciphering this mystery and on understanding whether slow WD in the CNS could account for the failure of CNS axons to regenerate.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Axons / pathology*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Myelin Sheath / immunology
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism
  • Myelin Sheath / pathology
  • Nerve Regeneration* / physiology
  • Neuroglia / physiology
  • Phagocytosis* / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Wallerian Degeneration / genetics
  • Wallerian Degeneration / metabolism
  • Wallerian Degeneration / physiopathology*


  • Antibodies