Axonal branching following crush lesions of peripheral nerves of rat

Muscle Nerve. 1988 Aug;11(8):880-9. doi: 10.1002/mus.880110813.


Branching of myelinated and unmyelinated nerve fibers in normal and regenerating personal and soleus nerves was studied by light and electron microscopy. There were at most 2% more myelinated and 13% more unmyelinated axons in the distal as compared with the proximal nerve segments. Two to four weeks after a crush lesion the distal axons became 2-3 times more numerous; thereafter their number decreased. The number of axons in the proximal nerve segment did not change. The number of myelinated sprouts in most regenerated nerves equalled the number of myelinated fibers in the proximal nerve, while the number of unmyelinated axons after 12-19 weeks was 18-60% higher than normal. Branching was not restricted to the crush region. The results indicate that following a crush lesion all axons branch but only branches of unmyelinated fibers persist for a prolonged period of time. It is tentatively suggested that regenerating axons branch when searching for a target and that when contact is made with the target this prevents additional branching and eliminates redundant branches. Myelinated axons are guided by existing Schwann cells, whereas unmyelinated axons do not follow predetermined pathways; this may explain their greater tendency to form permanent branches.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology*
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / physiology
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology*
  • Peroneal Nerve / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains