This study demonstrates that regeneration of unmyelinated sudomotor axons in mice becomes progressively slower during aging. Identical lesions were made in mice aged 0, 2, 4, 6, 7, 24 and 60 weeks. The peroneal, sural and saphenous nerves were cut and tied to prevent regeneration. The sciatic nerve was then frozen at the thigh, leaving the hind paw completely denervated. By 7 days, sweat glands (SGs) of the paw had ceased sweating after pilocarpine injection. Subsequent regeneration of sudomotor axons was judged by the rate of return of pilocarpine sensitivity. SGs in the hind paws of normal newborn mice did not sweat at birth. Cholinergic stimulation first activated sweating at 13 days of life. The number of responsive SGs increased progressively to reach the adult level by 30 days. In one-week-old mice, whose sciatic nerve had been sectioned, the SG response to cholinergic stimulation was very delayed in time and reduced in number. Sweat glands of young mice, between 2 and 4 weeks of age, regained cholinergic sensitivity at a faster rate than mature animals and attained normal SG counts. Throughout a broad intermediate range of age in adulthood (7-24 weeks), the rate of sudomotor nerve regeneration was the same, but in older mice (60 weeks) it was slower and less complete.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Julia Spiry for technical assistance. This work was partially supported by grants from the Minnesota Medical Foundation and the University of Minnesota Graduate School.
- Nerve regeneration
- Sudomotor axon
- Sweat gland