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H A Quigley, E B Davis, D R Anderson; Descending optic nerve degeneration in primates.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1977;16(9):841-849.
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We cut the optic nerve at the orbital apex in squirrel monkeys to study the descending degeneration of optic nerve axons and their ganglion cell bodies. We could not detect progressive disintegration of the axon from the site of injury back to the cell body. Instead, the entire length of individual axons seemed to degenerate simultaneously as early as 3 weeks and as late as 6 weeks after injury, as judged both by ultrastructural integrity and by continued slow axonal transport, a reflection of local physiologic function. We could not relate the time of degeneration to the distance of the injury from the cell body. Evidently there is a signal of injury to the cell body after axotomy, though the nature of the signal and the mechanism by which it leads to cell death are unknown.
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