Directional specificity in the regeneration of lamprey spinal axons

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  25 May 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4651, pp. 894-896
DOI: 10.1126/science.6719120


After spinal transection in ammocoetes (lamprey larvae) 4 to 5 years old, functional recovery is accompanied by a limited regeneration in which axons grow as far as 5 millimeters beyond the scar. In axotomized giant interneurons labeled intracellularly with horseradish peroxidase 16 to 120 days after transection, 74 percent of regenerating neurites grew in their normal projection pattern, rostal and contralateral to the cell body. One third of the neurites originated anomalously from posterior dendrites. Despite their initial abnormal orientation, 80 percent of these neurites looped contralaterally and rostrally to assume the normal projection path. The directional specificity persisted when giant interneurons were located in islands formed by double simultaneous cord transection. This limited regeneration seems to be characterized by directional selectivity that cannot be attributed to nonspecific influences, such as a tendency of neurites to grow in an already established direction or a trophic effect of the zone of injury.