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J Comp Neurol. 2000 Jan 10;416(2):188-200.

Retinal projections throughout optic nerve regeneration in the ornate dragon lizard, Ctenophorus ornatus.

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Department of Zoology, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands 6907, Australia.


In goldfish and frog, optic nerve regeneration is successful, with restoration of retinotopic projections in visual brain centres and the return of functional vision within 1-2 months. By contrast, at 1 year after unilateral optic nerve crush in the ornate dragon lizard (Ctenophorus ornatus), the regenerated retinotectal projections lack topographic order, presumably explaining why the lizards are blind via the experimental eye (Beazley et al. [1997] J. Comp. Neurol. 377:105-120). To determine whether other abnormalities are associated with the inability to restore topographic projections in the lizard, we charted anatomically the time course, accuracy, and stability of optic nerve regeneration by examining visual projections with the lipophillic dye 1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3', 3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate (DiI) applied to the optic disk at intervals up to 1 year after optic nerve crush; in addition, DiI tracing of small groups of axons was used to examine the topicity of axons projecting to the tectum. Axons re-innervated visual centres from between 1 and 2 months, a time frame comparable with that in goldfish and frog. However, the projections in lizard were found to differ from those in goldfish and frog in three major ways. First, there was considerable variability within the projection patterns both between individual lizards at any one stage and with time. Second, the projections were inaccurate. As in normal lizards, the major projection was to the contralateral optic tectum, although it lacked detectable retinotopic axon order throughout. Furthermore, misrouting occurred such that regenerating axons formed a persistent projection to the ipsilateral side of the brain that was considerably stronger and more widespread than normal. Minor visual centres also became re-innervated but, in addition, regenerating axons formed persistent projections into the opposite optic nerve and to non-retino-recipient regions such as the nucleus rotundus, hypothalamus, and olfactory nerve, as well as the posterior and tectal commissures. Third, the projections appeared unstable. Projections to both tecta were strongest between 3 and 5 months, but they diminished thereafter. The results suggest that, compared with goldfish and frog, in lizards both pathway and target cues are degraded and/or cannot be read adequately; as a consequence, regenerating axons are unable to navigate exclusively to visual centres and cannot re-form stable connections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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