Slow axonal transport in acrylamide neuropathy: Different abnormalities produced by single-dose and continuous administration

B. G. Gold, J. W. Griffin, D. L. Price

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83 Scopus citations


Alterations in axonal caliber and neurofilament content have been associated with altered neurofilament transport in several models of neurofibrillary degeneration. Acrylamide intoxication provides a prototype of distal axonal degeneration, the most frequent pattern of axonal pathology in human and experimental neurotoxic injury. Neurofibrillary changes are a variable and often minor aspect of the early pathological changes observed in acrylamide intoxication, and previous studies of slow axonal transport have produced conflicting results. In this study, we have correlated slow axonal transport, specifically neurofilament transport, with structural changes in the sciatic nerve complex of rats exposed to acrylamide. To study direct toxic effects of acrylamide, young rats were given a single dose of acrylamide (75 mg/kg i.p.). A second group received daily injections of acrylamide at a lower dose (30 mg/kg i.p.) in order to study animals with established acrylamide neuropathy. The slow component of axonal transport was labeled by intraspinal injections of [35S] methionine. Transport of individual slow component polypeptides was compared to profiles obtained from age-matched controls. Similarly intoxicated rats were perfused for morphometric and morphological studies. Results demonstrate that two different abnormalities of the slow component of axonal transport arise at different stages during the development of experimental acrylamide neuropathy. Both patterns of altered transport have structural correlates which reflect the changes in neurofilament transport. Following a single high dose, there was a modest retardation of the leading edge of the slow component. At this time, neurofilaments accumulated in proximal axons with formation of axonal swellings. During chronic administration, when distal axonal degeneration was present, the proportion of neurofilaments in the slow component was markedly reduced, and there was prominent loss of caliber in proximal axons. We suggest that these early changes represent a direct toxic effect of acrylamide on slow transport, whereas the later changes reflect reordering of slow transport as a neuronal response to toxin-induced axonal injury. This latter effect is of sufficient magnitude to obscure the acrylamide-induced retardation of slow transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1755-1768
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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