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Cell Tissue Res. 1992 Mar;267(3):419-27.

Time-related changes in the labeling pattern of motor and sensory neurons innervating the gastrocnemius muscle, as revealed by the retrograde transport of the cholera toxin B subunit.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Japan.


Morphological changes in the motor and sensory neurons in the lumbar spinal cord and the dorsal root ganglia were investigated at different survival times following the injection of the B subunit of cholera toxin (CTB) into the medial gastrocnemius muscle. Unconjugated CTB, visualized immunohistochemically, was found to be retrogradely transported through ventral and dorsal roots to motor neurons in the anterior horn, each lamina in the posterior horn, and ganglion cells in the dorsal root ganglia at L3-L6. The largest numbers of labeled motor neurons and ganglion cells were observed 72 h after the injection of CTB. Thereafter, labeled ganglion cells were significantly decreased in number, whereas the amount of labeled motor neurons showed a slight reduction. Motor neurons had extensive dendritic trees filled with CTB, reaching lamina VII and even the pia mater of the lateral funiculus. Labeling was also seen in the posterior horn, but the central and medial parts of laminae II and III had the most extensively labeled varicose fibers, the origin of which was the dorsal root ganglion cells. The results indicate that CTB is taken up by nerve terminals and can serve as a sensitive retrogradely transported marker for identifying neurons that innervate a specific muscle.

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