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The reaction of mesencephalic trigeminal neurons to peripheral nerve transection in the adult rat


The effects of peripheral nerve transection on mesencephalic trigeminal (MeV) neurons have been studied qualitatively and quantitatively in the rat. In the qualitative part of the study the brain stem was studied in Fink-Heimer stained sections 3–30 days after a masseteric nerve transection. Degeneration argyrophilia was observed both in the MeV tract and in the supratrigeminal and trigeminal motor nuclei, as well as in the lateral part of the brain stem reticular formation. The first signs of transganglionic degeneration (TGD) were seen 7 days postoperatively, and the amount of degeneration increased considerably with longer survival times. A quantitative analysis of the MeV nucleus was made 60 days after transection of the left masseteric nerve. This analysis showed a 10.5–22.7% reduction of cells on the side that had undergone masseteric nerve transection. The mean difference (left vs right side) was -2.4% in animals that had not been operated on. These findings show that mesencephalic trigeminal neurons with proprioceptive functions are very sensitive to peripheral nerve injury with a substantial cell loss and TGD as the result.

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Raappana, P., Arvidsson, J. The reaction of mesencephalic trigeminal neurons to peripheral nerve transection in the adult rat. Exp Brain Res 90, 567–571 (1992).

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Key words

  • Mesencephalic trigeminal neurons
  • Peripheral nerve transection
  • Cell loss
  • Transganglionic degeneration
  • Rat