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J Neurophysiol. 2006 Apr;95(4):2098-107. Epub 2005 Dec 28.

Inflammatory mediators enhance the excitability of chronically compressed dorsal root ganglion neurons.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


A laterally herniated disk, spinal stenosis, and various degenerative or traumatic diseases of the spine can sometimes lead to a chronic compression and inflammation of the dorsal root ganglion and chronic abnormal sensations including pain. After a chronic compression of the dorsal root ganglion (CCD) in rats, the somata in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) become hyperexcitable, and some exhibit ectopic, spontaneous activity (SA). Inflammatory mediators have a potential role in modulating the excitability of DRG neurons and therefore may contribute to the neuronal hyperexcitability after CCD. In this study, an inflammatory soup (IS) consisting of bradykinin, serotonin, prostaglandin E2, and histamine (each 10(-6) M) was applied topically to the DRG. The responses of DRG neurons were electrophysiologically recorded extracellularly from teased dorsal root fibers or intracellularly from the somata in the intact DRG or from dissociated neurons within 30 h of culture. In all three preparations, IS remarkably increased the discharge rates of SA CCD neurons and evoked discharges in more silent-CCD than control neurons. IS slightly depolarized the resting membrane potential and decreased the current and voltage thresholds of action potential in both intact and dissociated neurons, although the magnitude of depolarization or decrease in action potential threshold was not significantly different between CCD and control. IS-evoked responses were found in a proportion of neurons in each size category including those with and without nociceptive properties. Inflammatory mediators, by increasing the excitability of DRG somata, may contribute to CCD-induced neuronal hyperexcitability and to hyperalgesia and tactile allodynia.

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