1/1. Transganglionic gracile response following limb amputation in man.Gracile neuroaxonal dystrophy (nad) is an distinctive morphological alteration of central projecting axon terminals of dorsal root ganglion neurons. Experimentally, lower limb amputation has been shown to accelerate the formation of gracile nad, suggesting that the transganglionic response to peripheral axotomy may play a role in its development. To determine if a similar response occurs in the human sensory nervous system following peripheral nerve injury, we have performed postmortem histopathological examinations of the dorsal column nuclei of three patients (aged 15, 55, and 77 years old); all of whom had undergone accidental or therapeutic unilateral limb amputation (1 year, 38 years, and 1 year 8 months prior to death, respectively). In a 15-year-old man who underwent therapeutic leg amputation, the gracile nuclei on the transected side revealed reactive gliosis and many small axonal spheroids. The spheroids and fine neurites were immunolabelled with antibodies for growth-associated protein-43, ubiquitin and neuropeptide y (NPY). Neither routine histological nor immunohistochemical methods demonstrated comparable changes in the contralateral gracile nucleus. In a 77-year-old man who underwent leg amputation, the gracile nucleus on the amputated side was gliotic and showed several NPY and ubiquitin-immunoreactive spheroids, which were not seen in the contralateral non-transected side. A 55-year-old man with a history of accidental arm amputation showed well-developed nad in the cuneate nucleus only on the transected side. This study clearly demonstrates the occurrence of transganglionic response to limb amputation in human dorsal column nuclei. The extent of the regenerative and/or degenerative responses may vary depending on the age of the patient and the time interval following the peripheral axotomy.
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keywords = ganglion
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