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J Morphol. 1979 Oct;162(1):67-76.

Cell death and optic fiber penetration in the optic stalk of the chick.


The role of dying cells in the optic stalk in relation to retinal fiber migration was investigated in the chick embryo. Cell death was analysed at various stages of development by counting pycnotic nuclei and also by the Gomori acid phosphatase reaction, while nerve fibers were visualised by the Bodian method. A wave of cell death, beginning in the neural retina at stage 18 and advancing with time through the stalk towards the diencephalon, occurred simultaneously or slightly prior to differentiation and migration of ganglion cell axons. Cell death stopped and gliogenesis occurred in the stalk after penetration by retinal fibers. Cell death occurred in the stalk even when fiber penetration was prevented by optic cup ablation. In this case, necrosis ensued until almost complete degeneration of the stalk, usually within three days after the operation, and gliogenesis did not occur. As the stalk degenerated, its cells became heavily pigmented. These observations suggest that the onset of cell death in the optic stalk is determined prior to and independently of retinal fiber penetration. On the other hand, cessation of cell death and subsequent gliogenesis occur only in the presence of ingrowing optic fibers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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