Motor neurone sprouting induced by prolonged tetrodotoxin block of nerve action potentials


PERIPHERAL axons retain into adult life the ability to grow, and do so either if they themselves are cut or if neighbouring tissues are denervated (collateral sprouting1). Collateral sprouting also occurs in botulinum toxin poisoning2, motor end plate disease of mice3 and myasthenia gravis of man4. Muscle inactivity is common to these otherwise different conditions. We have therefore investigated whether inactivity in a muscle, produced by a local nerve block, will give rise to collateral sprouting. By paralysing motor nerves for a few days with a local application of tetrodotoxin (TTX) we have found that motor nerve terminals in the affected muscles do grow collateral sprouts. We conclude that muscle inactivity results in a sprouting stimulus to nerves.

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BROWN, M., IRONTON, R. Motor neurone sprouting induced by prolonged tetrodotoxin block of nerve action potentials. Nature 265, 459–460 (1977).

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