Functional recovery of vision in regenerated optic nerve fibers

Vision Res. 1998 May;38(10):1545-53. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(98)00005-4.


Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) of adult mammals normally suffer from retrograde cell death after optic nerve section. However, with transplantation of a segment of peripheral nerve (PN), their axons can regenerate and regrow through the graft. When properly guided, the regenerated axons make functional synapses with the target cells in the superior colliculus. Two months after PN graft we studied the number and morphology of RGCs with regenerated axons in adult cats. Number of regenerated RGCs was a few percent of the total population and, among various RGC types, alpha cells revealed the greatest ability for axonal regeneration and ON-center RGCs tended to regenerate better than OFF-center cells. While dendritic field dimension of RGCs with regenerated axons was mostly preserved, their regenerated axons were thinner than normal optic axons and mostly unmyelinated. The RGCs with regenerated axons revealed normal physiological properties in response to visual stimuli, and were classifiable into Y, X or W cells. In accordance with morphological results, Y cells (morphological alpha cells) were most frequently sampled. In hamsters and rats it has been shown that the animals with reconstructed retinocollicular pathway by the PN graft reveal behavioral recovery of visual function. However, in the cat, trials are still in progress to reconstruct the retinogeniculate pathway. The present status of researches on optic nerve regeneration of adult mammals using the PN graft is reviewed, and some future directions discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Axotomy
  • Cats
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Survival
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Neural Conduction
  • Neural Pathways
  • Optic Nerve / physiology*
  • Peripheral Nerves / transplantation
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Vision, Ocular*