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J Neurosci. 2000 Oct 1;20(19):7279-89.

Changes in expression of two tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channels and their currents in dorsal root ganglion neurons after sciatic nerve injury but not rhizotomy.

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Department of Neurology and Paralyzed Veterans of America/Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association Neuroscience Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


Two TTX-resistant sodium channels, SNS and NaN, are preferentially expressed in c-type dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and have been shown recently to have distinct electrophysiological signatures, SNS producing a slowly inactivating and NaN producing a persistent sodium current with a relatively hyperpolarized voltage-dependence. An attenuation of SNS and NaN transcripts has been demonstrated in small DRG neurons after transection of the sciatic nerve. However, it is not known whether changes in the currents associated with SNS and NaN or in the expression of SNS and NaN channel protein occur after axotomy of the peripheral projections of DRG neurons or whether similar changes occur after transection of the central (dorsal root) projections of DRG neurons. Peripheral and central projections of L4/5 DRG neurons in adult rats were axotomized by transection of the sciatic nerve and the L4 and L5 dorsal roots, respectively. DRG neurons were examined using immunocytochemical and patch-clamp methods 9-12 d after sciatic nerve or dorsal root lesion. Levels of SNS and NaN protein in the two types of injuries were paralleled by their respective TTX-resistant currents. There was a significant decrease in SNS and NaN signal intensity in small DRG neurons after peripheral, but not central, axotomy compared with control neurons. Likewise, there was a significant reduction in slowly inactivating and persistent TTX-resistant currents in these neurons after peripheral, but not central, axotomy compared with control neurons. These results indicate that peripheral, but not central, axotomy results in a reduction in expression of functional SNS and NaN channels in c-type DRG neurons and suggest a basis for the altered electrical properties that are observed after peripheral nerve injury.

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