The specificity of re-innervation by identified sensory and motor neurons in the leech

J Comp Neurol. 1977 Feb 15;171(4):433-54. doi: 10.1002/cne.901710402.


Re-innervation of skin and muscle by identified sensory and motor neurons in segmental ganglia of the leech was studied using physiological techniques. After lesions of peripheral nerves, sensory axons which re-innervated the skin always regained sensitivity to their original stimulus modality (touch, pressure or noxious stimuli). Motor neurons invariably re-innervated the appropriate type of body wall muscle, such as longitudinal or circular muscle layers. Both sensory and motor axons usually returned to the appropriate region of the body wall (dorsal, lateral, or ventral) when regenerating after a nerve crush or cut. This capacity was lost, however, when growth along old nerve branches was prevented by evulsing long segments of the nerve. Re-innervation usually occurred by way of growth of new axons all the way to the periphery, but in a few cases reconnection with the surviving distal segment of the original axon had taken place. The specificity of re-innervation can be accounted for by a combination of selective growth along appropriate nerve branches and specific interactions with target tissues.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Leeches / physiology*
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Skin / innervation
  • Time Factors
  • Touch