Axotomy as an experimental model of neuronal injury and cell death

Vassilis E. Koliatsos, Donald L. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Axonal transection provides very useful paradigms to study cellular responses to injury, mechanisms of regeneration and plasticity, and processes that read to nerve cell degeneration. Moreover, models of axotomy are valuable for testing experimental therapeutic approaches. Lesions can be made with great precision, and, depending on the neural system, location of the lesion, and age of the animal, these models allow the opportunity to examine a range of neuronal responses. Many parameters influence the character, evolution, and outcomes of axotomy-related processes. The most severe outcome of axotomy is cell death, very common in lesions of neurons of the central nervous system (CNS), although neurons of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) may also die if the transection is sufficiently close to the neuronal cell body or if lesions are performed in young animals. Studies of axotomy models have provided clues into the cellular/molecular events associated with neuronal death and the ways in which interventions can delay or prevent processes that lead to cell death. In this review, we select examples, primarily from our own work, to illustrate how axotomy models have enhanced our understanding of neuronal responses to injury, clarified mechanisms of both regeneration/plasticity and degeneration ! cell death, and allowed assessments of the utility of therapeutic approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-465
Number of pages19
JournalBrain Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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