This study investigated the maximum number of collaterals that can be maintained by 1 axon during regeneration of rat peripheral nerve. The tibial nerve was transected, the proximal residual, with its variable number of axons, was fixed to the distal stump and served as the donor nerve. The number of myelinated axons was calculated after 12 weeks. An increasing ratio of distal stump axon numbers to proximal donor nerve axon numbers of 1.0, 1.83, 3.64 and 7.97 yielded ratios of regenerative myelinated axon numbers to proximal donor axon numbers of 0.98, 1.51, 2.39, 2.89, respectively, with an estimated maximum value of approximately 3.3 using the Hill function. The tibial function indexes and nerve conduction velocities of the regenerated tibial nerve were –44.1 ± 5.1 and 43.2 ± 5.3 m/s, –57.5 ± 4.7 and 18.6 ± 4.3 m/s, –80.2 ± 7.1 and 12.7 ± 3.7 m/s, and –85.4 ± 5.7 and 10.5 ± 3.9 m/s, respectively. It has been suggested that 1 axon can regenerate and maintain up to 3 or 4 collaterals in regenerated rat peripheral nerve.
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