The rat caudal nerves: A model for experimental neuropathies

Herbert H. Schaumburg, Elena Zotova, Cedric S. Raine, Moses Tar, Joseph Arezzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This study provides a detailed investigation of the anatomy of the rat caudal nerve along its entire length, as well as correlated nerve conduction measures in both large and small diameter axons. It determines that rodent caudal nerves provide a simple, sensitive experimental model for evaluation of the pathophysiology of degeneration, recovery, and prevention of length-dependent distal axonopathy. After first defining the normal anatomy and electrophysiology of the rat caudal nerves, acrylamide monomer, a reliable axonal toxin, was administered at different doses for escalating time periods. Serial electrophysiological recordings were obtained, during intoxication, from multiple sites along caudal and distal sciatic nerves. Multiple sections of the caudal and sciatic nerves were examined with light and electron microscopy. The normal distribution of conduction velocities was determined and acrylamide-induced time- and dose-related slowing of velocities at the vulnerable ultraterminal region was documented. Degenerative morphological changes in the distal regions of the caudal nerves appeared well before changes in the distal sciatic nerves. Our study has shown that (1) rat caudal nerves have a complex neural structure that varies along a distal-to-proximal gradient and (2) correlative assessment of both morphology and electrophysiology of rat caudal nerves is easily achieved and provides a highly sensitive index of the onset and progression of the length-dependent distal axonopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-139
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Peripheral Nervous System
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • A-delta fibers
  • Acrylamide-induced neuropathy
  • Caudal nerve
  • Distal axonopathy
  • Small-fiber neuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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