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J Neurosci. 1988 Jul;8(7):2430-7.

Guidance of regenerating motor axons in larval and juvenile bullfrogs.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599.


The segmental distribution of regenerating bullfrog motor axons was mapped in advanced tadpoles and juvenile frogs by stimulating selected muscle nerves and recording from the distal ends of the 3 lumbar ventral roots (VRs) that innervate the hindlimb. When motoneurons were axotomized by VR transection, they reestablished their original innervation fields, rarely, if ever, growing beyond the territory normally supplied by their spinal segment. However, when motoneurons were axotomized in the spinal nerves at the level of the hindlimb plexus, some of them regenerated into limb nerves that lay outside the axons' normal segmental boundaries, and many regenerated into the medial femoral cutaneous nerve, a pathway normally limited to sensory axons. These observations suggest that the ultimate destinations of regenerating axons are largely determined by structures the axons encounter as they penetrate the distal nerve stumps. Thus, axons regenerating from a severed VR grow into that root's own distal stump and reinnervate the hindlimb in a manner that is segmentally appropriate; axons transected near the plexus have access to the pathways of sensory, as well as motor, axons in all 3 lumbar segments, and establish innervation fields that are inappropriate for their segment of origin and their motor function.

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