Title

Loss of axons in the cat optic nerve following fetal unilateral enucleation: An electron microscopic analysis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1-1-1983

Journal

Journal of Neuroscience

Volume

3

Issue

1

DOI

10.1523/jneurosci.03-01-00133.1983

Abstract

Between the 48th day of gestation (E-48) and maturity, the number of axons in the cat optic nerve is reduced by approximately 50%. On the basis of an electron microscopic assay, the axon population of the E-48 nerve was estimated to be 328,000. In contrast, estimates from two normal adults were 159,000 and 158,000. In utero unilateral enucleation (at E-45 and E-46) attenuated the severity of this loss since the optic nerves of the experimental animals contained 200,000 and 198,000 fibers. These results indicate that prenatal binocular competition is involved in the elimination of ganglion cell axons during the normal development of the cat's visual system. The increased number of axons in the optic nerve of the prenatally enucleated animals could be due to reduced ganglion cell death or a failure to retract supernumerary axon collaterals. It is suggested that the former explanation is more consistent with what is currently known about the development of retinofugal projections.

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