Ultrastructural studies of the dying-back process: VI. Examination of nerve fibers undergoing giant axonal degeneration in organotypic culture

Bellina Veronesi, Edith R. Peterson, Murray B. Bornstein, Peter S. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations


Organotypic tissue cultures, composed of structurally and functionally coupled explants of mouse spinal cord, dorsal root ganglia, and striated muscle, have been used to create a model of the distal (dying-back) axonopathy found in animals and humans with aliphatic hexacarbon neuropathy. Mature explants were treated with 50-650 μg/ml of the following hexacarbons dissolved in nutrient fluid: n-hexane, 2-hexanol, 2,5-hexancdiol, methyl n-butyl ketone, 5-hydroxy-2-hexanone, 2,5-hexanedione (all neurotoxic), or 2,4-hexanedione (a non-neurotoxic diketone). High concentrations (400-650 μg/ml) induced pancytotoxic damage and necrosis of tissue within days, while the lower doses (50-100 μg/ml) induced no pathological changes over a period of several weeks. Continuous exposure of explants to 245-325 μg/ml (2.8 mW) of the neurotoxic hexacarbons caused specific pathological changes to develop in distal nerve fibers after three to six weeks. Initial changes seen in distal, nonterminal regions of myelinated fibers included: nodal elongation, axonal swellings on proximal-side paranodes, and paranodal myelin retraction. Prolonged treatment was associated with Wallerian-like degeneration of distal nerve fibers. Denuded paranodal swellings in more proximal regions of affected myelinated fibers adopted a more-normal size and underwent remyelination; this occurred during and after the course of treatment. Remyelination by lateral extension from adjacent Schwann cells was documented in living and fixed tissue. The observations confirm the spatial-temporal evolution of hexacarbon distal axonopathy previously suggested from comparable studies in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-165
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1983


  • Axons
  • Hexanes, toxicity
  • Nerve degeneration, retrograde
  • Neuropathy
  • Tissue culture
  • Wallerian degeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Ultrastructural studies of the dying-back process: VI. Examination of nerve fibers undergoing giant axonal degeneration in organotypic culture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this