Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : The cutaneous branches originating from the superficial distal division of the ulnar nerve exhibit abnormal developmental features in 70.2% of the forelimb buds submitted 2 or 3 days earlier to methyl triazene administered to their pregnant mother. Similar abnormalities characterize the preaxial ventral cutaneous nerve of the thumb in 17.8% of forelimb primordia. The affected nerves undergo anticipated growth with respect to the normal schedule, follow abnormal pathways through areas of excessive cell death, and finally reach the apical ectoderm where they run in close contact with the basement membrane without forming a plexus. Histological observations gathered in pyronin-methyl green stained serial sections as well as in whole limb buds after cholinesterase method suggest that three factors probably contribute to modify nerve outgrowth: (1) a discrepancy between the rate of nerve progression and that of mesodermal growth in the prospective zeugopod territory which is preferentially affected by the teratogen; (2) facilitated nerve pathfinding into areas strongly hit by triazene-induced mesodermal cell death; and (3) alteration or abolition of some unknown ectodermal influence necessary to stimulate selective guidance of terminal sensory afferents and to maintain them transiently at some distance from the epidermis.