Proliferative and degenerative events in the early development of chick dorsal root ganglia. I. Normal development

J Comp Neurol. 1978 Dec 15;182(4):727-39. doi: 10.1002/cne.901820410.


Development of the chick dorsal root ganglia was examined in 4.5- to 9.5-day embryos. Tritiated thymidine (3H-TdR) and autoradiography was used to analyze proliferative activity and the Feulgen procedure to analyze degenerative activity in ganglia 12-17. Proliferative activity was found to be elevated through 4.5 days of incubation when as many as 14% of the ganglionic cells become labelled following a one-hour exposure to 3H-TdR. By 6.5 to 7.5 days proliferative activity decreases to 2-4% in the lateroventral (LV) regions and to approximately 1% in the mediodorsal (MD) regions of the ganglia. However, there appears to be increased proliferative activity by the end of the experimental period at 9.5 days. Birthdate studies demonstrate that large-scale neuronal production occurs between 4.5 and 6.5 days in the LV regions and between 4.5 and 7.5 days in the MD regions. After those times ganglionic proliferative activity must be largely nonneuronal in nature. This nonneuronal proliferation is greater in LV than in MD regions and in brachial than in nonbrachial ganglia. Degenerative activiy was found to be absent from the ganglia until after 4.5 days of incubation. It then increases rapidly, and by 5.5 days 5% of the LV cells in nonbrachial ganglia are degenerating. Degenerative activity then declines but is still present at 9.5 days. In contrast to results of an earlier study (Hamburger and Levi-Montalcini, '49), degenerative activity was also found in the LV region of brachial ganglia and the MD regions of brachial and nonbrachial ganglia. The pattern of LV degenerative activity in brachial ganglia is similar to that in nonbrachial ganglia, but the level of activity is lower. In the MD regions degenerative activity increases throughout the experimental period, and by 9.5 days as many as 4% of the MD cells are degenerating.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Ganglia, Spinal / embryology*
  • Mitosis
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Organ Size