Axonal Self-Destruction and Neurodegeneration

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Science  03 May 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5569, pp. 868-871
DOI: 10.1126/science.1068613

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Neurons seem to have at least two self-destruct programs. Like other cell types, they have an intracellular death program for undergoing apoptosis when they are injured, infected, or not needed. In addition, they apparently have a second, molecularly distinct self-destruct program in their axon. This program is activated when the axon is severed and leads to the rapid degeneration of the isolated part of the cut axon. Do neurons also use this second program to prune their axonal tree during development and to conserve resources in response to chronic insults?

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: m.raff{at}

  • Present address: Systems Research Department, Sandia National Laboratories, Post Office Box 969, Mail Stop 9201, Livermore, CA 94551, USA.

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