Nerve fibre regeneration across the peripheral-central transitional zone

J Anat. 1997 Jan;190 ( Pt 1)(Pt 1):51-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1469-7580.1997.19010051.x.


Neurons cannot negotiate an elongation across the peripheral (PNS)-central nervous system (CNS) transitional zone and grow into or out of the spinal cord in the mature mammal. The astrocytic rich CNS part of the spinal nerve root is most effective in preventing regeneration even of nerve fibres from transplanted embryonic ganglion cells. Regeneration of severed nerve fibres into the spinal cord occurs when the transition zone is absent as in the immature animal. Before the establishment of a transition zone there is also new growth of neuronal processes from dorsal horn neurons distally to the injured dorsal root. Thus the experimental strategy to reestablish spinal cord to peripheral nerve connectivity has been to delete the transitional region and implant severed ventral or dorsal roots into the spinal cord. Dorsal root implantation resulted in reestablished afferent connectivity by new neuronal processes from secondary sensory neurons in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord extending into the PNS. The ability for plasticity in these cells allowed for a concurrent retention of their original rostral projection. Ventral root implantation into the spinal cord corrected deficit motor function. In a long series of experiments performed in different species, the functional restitution was demonstrated to depend on an initial regrowth of motor neuron axons through spinal cord tissue (CNS). These findings have led to the design of a new surgical strategy in cases of traumatic spinal nerve root injuries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / physiology
  • Axons / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / injuries*
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / surgery