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Medical Dictionary

Wallerian degeneration

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noun Wal·le·ri·an degeneration \wä-ˈlir-ē-ən-\

Medical Definition of Wallerian degeneration

  1. :  degeneration of nerve fibers that occurs following injury or disease and that progresses from the place of injury along the axon away from the cell body while the part between the place of injury and the cell body remains intact



Biographical Note for wallerian degeneration

Waller \ˈwäl-ər\play , Augustus Volney (1816–1870), British physiologist. Waller began in private practice, but after several years he decided to devote full time to research, first in Bonn and then in Paris. For a time he was professor of physiology in Birmingham, England. He is best known for pioneering a major technique for unraveling the complex structure of the nervous system using the type of nerve degeneration that is now associated with his name. By cutting the nerves in the frog's tongue, Waller discovered in 1849 that degeneration occurred throughout the axon's distal segment, and he concluded from this that the nerve cell body is the axon's source of nutriment. The method became a major means of tracing the origin and course of nerve fibers and tracts.


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