Crush or transection of a peripheral nerve is known to induce transganglionic degenerative atrophy (TDA) in the segmentally related, ipsilateral Rolando substance of the spinal cord. When the lost peripheral connectivity is reestablished, the consecutive regenerative synaptoneogenesis results in restoration of the circuitry in the formerly deteriorated upper dorsal horn. Enhanced expression of the growth‐associated protein (GAP43) B‐50 occurs during neuronal differentiation, axon outgrowth, and peripheral nerve regeneration. This study documents changes in immunocytochemical distribution of B‐50 in the regions of the lumbar spinal cord which are segmentally related to the axotomized sciatic nerve. At the light microscopic level, a weak B‐50 immunoreactivity (BIR) is present in the neuropil of the upper dorsal horn of control animals. After unilateral transection and ligation of the sciatic nerve, BIR increased in the ipsilateral upper dorsal horn at 17 days postinjury, but decreased again after 24 days with respect to the contralateral side. Differences between effects of crush and transection were prominent in combined crush‐cut experiments as well (i.e., after unilateral crush and contralateral transection and ligation of the sciatic nerve). Electron microscopic studies show that in the uninjured and injured spinal cord, BIR is detected in axons and axon terminals, but not all are stained. After transection of the sciatic nerve, BIR is found in afflicted primary sensory axon terminals, including those contacting substantia gelatinosa neurons and in axon terminals undergoing glial phagocytosis. The localization of BIR seen after crushing the sciatic nerve is similar. However, at 24 days after crush, BIR is detected also in axonal growth cones. In the ventral horn of control animals, synaptic boutons impinging upon motor neurons exhibited weak BIR. At 17 days after unilateral transection of the sciatic nerve, the pericellular BIR surrounding motor neurons is decreased at the ipsilateral with respect to the contralateral side, whereas 24 days after crush injury it increased considerably. Our results show that peripheral nerve injury inducing TDA also affects BIR distribution in the spinal gray matter. Successful regeneration of the peripheral nerve after crush lesion is associated with enhanced expression of B‐50 in growth cones of sprouting central axons. The neuroplastic response of B‐50 is in line with a function of B‐50 in axonal sprouting and reactive synaptogenesis. © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
- growth cone
- growth‐associated phosphoprotein B‐50
- immuno‐electron microscopy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience