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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT In crayfish, neural degeneration and regeneration in the ventral nerve cord occur in one of two ways, depending on the injured fiber. Most fibers degenerate in 1 or 2 weeks, while giant fibers degenerate slowly. Although degenerative changes are similar in both cases, they do not seem to correlate with motor behavioral alterations. The aim of this work was to characterize the time course of behavioral and anatomical changes following ventral nerve cord (VNC) transection in crayfish. The behavioral analysis was focused on the righting reflex whose changes were correlated with morphological studies performed on longitudinal sections and analyzed with transmission (TEM) and scanning electron microscope (SEM). Latency for the righting reflex increased after VNC transection and then slowly decreased toward control values. Anatomically, degenerative changes began to appear 10 days after VNC transection. Disruption in membrane arrangement, subcellular organelles, and a strong increase in glia appeared in small fibers. To a lesser degree, similar changes could be detected in medial and lateral giant fibers. Glial growth reconnected the transected VNC where regeneration signs were detected in small fibers. Both stumps were reconnected at least by glial tissue 90 days after transection, while giant axons were still degenerating; at this time, the righting reflex returned to control values.


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