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Mika Karasawa, Kumiko Yokouchi, Akira Kakegawa, Kyutaro Kawagishi, Tetsuji Moriizumi and Nanae Fukushima

OBJECT

The purpose of this study was to determine the minimum amount of nerve fibers required to maintain normal motor function after nerve injury in rats.

METHODS

The authors first confirmed that a common peroneal nerve injury caused more aggravating effects on lower limb motor function than tibial nerve injury, as assessed by the static sciatic index (SSI). Thereafter, rats were subjected to varying degrees of crush injury to the common peroneal nerve. At 48 hours after the injury, motor function was assessed using the SSI and slope-walking ability (with slope angles of 30° and 45°). The tibialis anterior muscle, a main muscle innervated by the common peroneal nerve, was removed. Muscle sections were co-labeled with neuronal class III β-tubulin polyclonal antibody to identify the presence of axons and Alexa Fluor 488-conjugated α-bungarotoxin to identify the presence of motor endplates.

RESULTS

The evaluation of neuromuscular innervation showed a correlation between SSI scores and ratios of residual axons (rs = 0.68, p < 0.01), and there was a statistically significant difference between slope-walking ability and ratios of residual axons (p < 0.01). Moreover, the ratios of residual axons in the nerve-crushed rats with normal motor function (SSI above −20) ranged from 36.5% to 88.7%, and those ratios in the success group with slope-walking angles of 30° and 45° ranged from 14.7% to 88.7% and from 39.8% to 88.7%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

In this study of rodents, less than half of the motor axons were sufficient to maintain normal motor function of the lower limb.

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Fumiko Higashiyama, Nanae Fukushima, Kumiko Yokouchi, Kyutaro Kawagishi and Tetsuji Moriizumi

Object. This study was performed to provide quantitative data on the number of surviving facial motor neurons that extend regenerated nerve fibers through the nerve-injured site and to reveal the relationship between facial function and the number of those motor neurons in which the facial nerve has been transected or resected in neonatal rats.

Methods. After transection of facial nerves in 1-day-old rat pups, facial function was estimated on postoperative Day 56 and a retrograde neuronal tracer was applied to the specific facial nerve branch responsible for the whisker movement. The mean number of the tracer-labeled neurons in the control rats was 2623 ± 31 (mean ± standard error of the mean) and that of the nerve-transected rats was 74 ± 11 (range 0–221). Based on whisker movement, the nerve-transected rats were divided into two groups: clear spontaneous whisker movement and no whisker movement. The mean number of the tracer-labeled neurons in the nerve-transected rats with mobile whiskers was (106 ± 12, range 44 [2% of the control value]—221 [8%]), whereas that in the nerve-transected rats with nonmobile whiskers was 24 ± 6 (range 0–54 [2% of the control value]). The nerve-resected rats produced no labeled neurons.

Conclusions. It was concluded that axotomized neonatal facial motor neurons extended regenerated nerve fibers through the nerve-transected site with the maximum value of 8% of the control value and that minimal whisker movement was preserved with a very small population of motor neurons (2%).

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Susumu Oikawa, Kyutaro Kawagishi, Kumiko Yokouchi, Nanae Fukushima and Tetsuji Moriizumi

Object. The present study was undertaken to elucidate the extent and precise distribution of the postganglionic sympathetic fibers in the cranial nerves projecting to the orbit and to reconstruct sympathetic routes in the orbit in humans. For this purpose, the authors made an immunohistochemical determination of the sympathetic fibers by using an antibody against norepinephrine-synthetic enzyme, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH).

Methods. Specimens containing the orbit and the cavernous sinus were obtained from formalin-fixed human cadavers. First, it was confirmed that the superior cervical ganglion contained strongly immunostained TH-positive neuronal cell bodies and fibers. After careful dissection of the cranial nerves projecting to the orbit, different segments of each cranial nerve were processed for immunohistochemical analysis for TH. All of the intraorbital cranial nerves contained TH-positive sympathetic fibers, although the amounts were very different in each cranial nerve. At the proximal site of the common tendinous ring, TH-positive fibers were found mainly in the abducent and trochlear nerves. At the distal site of this ring, TH-positive fibers were lost or markedly reduced in number in the abducent and trochlear nerves and were distributed mostly in the ophthalmic and oculomotor nerves. Among the cranial nerves projecting to the orbit, the ophthalmic nerve and its bifurcated nerves—frontal, lacrimal, and nasociliary—contained numerous TH-positive fibers.

Conclusions. The authors conclude that the postganglionic sympathetic fibers are distributed to all cranial nerves projecting to the orbit and that the ophthalmic nerve provides a major sympathetic route in the orbital cavity in humans.