To provide endpoints for developmental studies of rubrospinal plasticity in the North American opossum, we have attempted to determine the degree to which rubrospinal neurons survive axotomy in the adult animal. Bilateral or unilateral injections of the long-lasting fluorescent marker fast blue were made into the T-10 or the T-11 segment of the spinal cord to label rubrospinal neurons, and 7 days later, the rubrospinal tract was cut unilaterally four segments rostral to the injection(s). In cases with unilateral injections, the lesion was made ipsilateral to the injection. The animals were allowed to survive for 30-60 days before being sacrificed and perfused so that sections through the red nuclei could be examined for labeled neurons. The results show that most axotomized neurons survived the lesion, suggesting that lesion-dependent cell death is not a major factor in the failure of the rubrospinal tract to regenerate in the adult animal.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience