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LYSOSOMES IN THE RAT SCIATIC NERVE FOLLOWING CRUSH

Eric Holtzman, Alex B. Novikoff

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Peripheral nerves undergoing degeneration are favorable material for studying the types, origins, and functions of lysosomes. The following lysosomes are described: (a) Autophagic vacuoles in altered Schwann cells. Within these vacuoles the myelin and much of the axoplasm which it encloses in the normal nerve are degraded (Wallerian degeneration). The delimiting membranes of the vacuoles apparently form from myelin lamellae. Considered as possible sources of their acid phosphatase are Golgi vesicles (primary lysosomes), lysosomes of the dense body type, and the endoplasmic reticulum which lies close to the vacuoles. (b) Membranous bodies that accumulate focally in myelinated fibers in a zone extending 2 to 3 mm distal to the crush. These appear to arise from the endoplasmic reticulum in which demonstrable acid phosphatase activity increases markedly within 2 hours after the nerve is crushed. (c) Autophagic vacuoles in the axoplasm of fibers proximal to the crush. The breakdown of organelles within these vacuoles may have significance for the reorganization of the axoplasm preparatory to regeneration. (d) Phagocytic vacuoles of altered Schwann cells. As myelin degeneration begins, some axoplasm is exposed. This is apparently engulfed by the filopodia of the Schwann cells, and degraded within the phagocytic vacuoles thus formed. (e) Multivesicular bodies in the axoplasm of myelinated fibers. These are generally seen near the nodes of Ranvier.