Growth of dorsal spinocerebellar axons through a lesion of their spinal pathway during early development in the North American opossum, Didelphis virginiana

Jonathan Richard Terman, Xian Ming Wang, George Franklin Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Supraspinal axons grow around or through lesions of their spinal pathway during specific critical periods of mammalian development, but comparable plasticity has not been documented for axons which form ascending tracts. In the present study, we asked whether axons of the dorsal spinocerebellar tract (DSCT) are capable of such growth. The spinal cord of the North American opossum, Didelphis virginiana, was hemisected at mid-thoracic levels between postnatal day (PD) 5 and 68 and after varying survival times, bilateral injections of Fluoro-Gold or Fast Blue were made into the anterior lobe of the cerebellum, the major target of DSCT axons. Seven days later, the pups were sacrificed and their spinal cord processed for fluorescence microscopy. In animals lesioned between PD5 and 9, and allowed to survive for 37-269 days, neurons were labeled bilaterally in Clarke's nucleus (CN) caudal to the lesion, but they were fewest in number and smallest in size on the lesioned side. Since the DSCT originates almost entirely within CN on the ipsilateral side, we conclude that the neurons labeled ipsilateral and caudal to the lesion supported axons which grew around or through it. Histological examination revealed that recognizable spinal cord was present at the lesion site and that labeled spinocerebellar axons were located in their normal position ipsilateral to the lesion. It appears, therefore, that growth occurred through the lesion. In animals lesioned between PD13 and 68, labeled neurons were not found in CN caudal and ipsilateral to the lesion although they were present on the contralateral (control) side. We conclude that DSCT axons, like axons which form descending tracts, grow through a lesion of their spinal pathway if it is made early in development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-48
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopmental Brain Research
Volume93
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 31 1996

Keywords

  • Cerebellum
  • Development
  • Marspial
  • Plasticity
  • Regeneration
  • Spional cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology

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