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J Peripher Nerv Syst. 2006 Sep;11(3):211-6.

Evidence for direct axonal toxicity in vincristine neuropathy.

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Department of Neurology, Center for Neurodegenerative Disease, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


There is a long-standing debate concerning the localization of the primary insult that results in distal axonal degeneration, or 'dying back' neuropathy. To address this question, we created an in vitro model of vincristine neuropathy in rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG). DRGs were grown in compartmentalized chambers, allowing for isolated exposure of the cell body or the axon to vincristine. Initial dose-finding studies identified a dose of vincristine that showed differential effects on cell death when delivered to either the cell body or the axonal compartment. At this dose of 0.05 microM, exposure of the cell bodies had no effect on the growth of axons, whereas addition of vincristine to the axonal compartment caused axonal shortening without affecting the growth of unexposed 'sister' axons. Toxicity was seen only with exposure of the growing axonal tips. These data support localized axonal toxicity as a cause of distal axonal degeneration due to vincristine.

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