It is well known that after reconstruction of sectioned peripheral nerves in adult mammals, denervated muscles are reinnervated by the axotomized motoneurons lying in the original motonucleus. It is less well known that these muscles can also be reinnervated by uninjured motoneurons lying in the homologous contralateral motonucleus. Therefore, after nerve reconstruction, bilateral motoneuron reinnervation of muscles can occur. Contralateral motoneurons sprout axons that cross the midline, grow in the reconstructed nerve, and reach muscle targets. This phenomenon was observed after reconstruction of several different peripheral nerves in adult mammals, including the oculomotor nerve in guinea pigs and the facial and sciatic nerves in rats. The retrograde axonal transport of horseradish peroxidase was used for the study of the organization of the brainstem and spinal cord motonuclei. Horseradish peroxidase was injected into the medial rectus muscle, the stylohyoid muscle, and the trunk of the sciatic nerve. The distance between the homologous motonuclei of both sides influenced the occurrence of this phenomenon. In fact, bilateral reinnervation of muscles after nerve reconstruction was found in 36% (sciatic nerve), 50% (facial nerve), and 100% (oculomotor nerve) of the operated animals. The total number of contralateral motoneurons found were 14% (oculomotor nerve), 8% (facial nerve), and 5% (sciatic nerve). Bilateral reinnervation of muscles was evoked by both immediate and delayed peripheral nerve repair and was a stable phenomenon, seen between 3 and 21 months after facial nerve reconstruction. © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.
- Facial nerve
- Nerve regeneration