Cell death of embryonic neurons which are unable to attain a proper target is well established. A delayed cell death of adult neurons permanently separated from their target tissue has been demonstrated for several cell groups. Cells of the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) are unique in that a single T-shape neurite has a peripheral branch which extends (for root L5) to the hind limb and a central branch extending into the spinal cord. We found a significant loss of L5 DRG neurons 25 weeks after hind limb amputation. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that neuron survival is dependent on connection with a suitable target. We were unable to detect cell death in the DRG of L5 after complete spinal cord transection at T9. Separation of DRG cells from their central target is unimportant to neuronal survival. © 1985.
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