Author(s): Kanamori A, Catrinescu MM, Belisle JM, Costantino S, Levin LA. Retrograde and Wallerian axonal degeneration occur synchronously after retinal ganglion cell axotomy. Am J Pathol. 2012 Jul;181(1):62-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2012.03.030. Epub 2012 May 26. PMID 22642911
Journal: The American Journal Of Pathology, Volume 181, Issue 1, Jul 2012
Axonal injury and degeneration are pivotal pathological events in diseases of the nervous system. In the past decade, it has been recognized that the process of axonal degeneration is distinct from somal degeneration and that axoprotective strategies may be distinct from those that protect the soma. Preserving the cell body via neuroprotection cannot improve function if the axon is damaged, because the soma is still disconnected from its target. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms of axonal degeneration is critical for developing new therapeutic interventions for axonal disease treatment. We combined in vivo imaging with a multilaser confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope and in vivo axotomy with a diode-pumped solid-state laser to assess the time course of Wallerian and retrograde degeneration of unmyelinated retinal ganglion cell axons in living rats for 4 weeks after intraretinal axotomy. Laser injury resulted in reproducible axon loss both distal and proximal to the site of injury. Longitudinal polarization-sensitive imaging of axons demonstrated that Wallerian and retrograde degeneration occurred synchronously. Neurofilament immunostaining of retinal whole-mounts confirmed axonal loss and demonstrated sparing of adjacent axons to the axotomy site. In vivo fluorescent imaging of axonal transport and photobleaching of labeled axons demonstrated that the laser axotomy model did not affect adjacent axon function. These results are consistent with a shared mechanism for Wallerian and retrograde degeneration.