Preferential motor reinnervation: A sequential double-labeling study

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93 Scopus citations


Previous experiments have shown that motor axons regenerating in mixed nerve will preferentially reinnervate a distal motor branch. The present experiments examine the mechanism through which this sensory-motor specificity is generated. An enclosed 0.5 mm gap was created in the proximal femoral nerves of juvenile rats. Two, three or eight weeks later the specificity of motor axon regeneration was evaluated by simultaneous application of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) to one distal femoral branch (sensory or motor) and Fluoro-Gold to the other. Motoneurons were then counted as projecting (i) correctly to the motor branch, (ii) incorrectly to the sensory branch, and (iii) simultaneously to both branches (double-labeled). Motor axon regeneration was random at 2 weeks, with equal numbers of motoneurons projecting to sensory and motor branches. However, the number of correct projections increased dramatically between 2 and 3 weeks. Twenty-six percent of neurons labeled at 2 weeks contained both tracers, indicating axon collateral projections to both sensory and motor branches. This number decreased significantly at each time period. Axon collaterals were thus ‘pruned‘ from the sensory branch, increasing the number of correct projections at the expense of double-labeled neurons. These findings suggest random reinnervation of the distal stump, with specificity generated through trophic interaction between axons and the pathway and/or end organ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-287
Number of pages7
JournalRestorative Neurology and Neuroscience
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Axon collaterals
  • Double labeling
  • Neurotrophism
  • Peripheral nerve
  • Regeneration
  • Selective pruning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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