Wallerian degeneration in the severed newt's (Triturus viridescens) optic nerve is complete between the 10–14th post operative day (p.o.d.). Consequently, the newt optic nerve displays one of the most rapid degenerative responses yet reported for the central nervous system of vertebrates. In most cases it also exhibits the speed of degenerative phenomena in the vertebrate peripheral nervous system.
The degeneration of unmyelinated axons is most rapid and is completed by 2–3 p.o.d., compared to myelinated axons, most of which degenerate between 2–10 p.o.d. Myelin ring formation (vesicular transformation) is the principal form of lamellar breakdown and occurs in a highly organized manner which can be clearly staged.
The glial cell response to Wallerian degeneration is two-fold: cytoplasmic hypertrophy and myelin-lytic. Glial hypertrophy subsides by the 10–14 p.o.d. with the ingrowth of numerous regenerating nerve fibers. The myelin-lytic response accounts for most of the myelin destruction. Leukocyte-like and microglialike cells also participate in myelin breakdown but to a lesser degree.