The lateral thoracic nerve and the cutaneous maximus muscle-A novel in vivo model system for nerve degeneration and regeneration studies

Bao Han Pan, Benedikt Grünewald, Thien Nguyen, Mohamed Farah, Michael Polydefkis, John McDonald, Lawrence P. Schramm, Klaus V. Toyka, Ahmet Höke, John W. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We report a novel in vivo mouse model system to study regeneration of injured motor nerve and spatiotemporal pattern of denervation in experimental nerve diseases. The lateral thoracic nerve (LTN), as a pure motor nerve, innervates the cutaneous maximus muscle (CMM) by some of the shortest and the longest motor nerve fibers in the mouse body. Its branches and nerve terminals can be imaged in whole mount preparations. Here we describe the branching pattern of the LTN and its innervation of the CMM, and characterize degeneration and regeneration over time after a LTN crush by morphological and electrophysiological analyses. We demonstrate the utility of this model in a well-established neurotoxicity paradigm and in a genetic disease model of the peripheral neuropathy. Furthermore, this system enables punch biopsies that allow repeated and multi-location examinations for LTN regeneration and CMM reinnervation over time. The presence of the LTN and the CMM in a variety of species and its easy accessibility suggests that this in vivo model system offers considerable promise for future nerve degeneration and regeneration research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-18
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012



  • Cutaneous maximus muscle
  • Cutaneous sensory nerve
  • Lateral thoracic nerve
  • Nerve degeneration
  • Nerve regeneration
  • Neuromuscular junction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience

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