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Neuroscience. 2002;114(2):279-83.

Glial cell plasticity in sensory ganglia induced by nerve damage.

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Laboratory of Experimental Surgery, Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91240, Israel.


Numerous studies have been done on the effect of nerve injury on neurons of sensory ganglia but little is known about the contribution of satellite glial cells (SCs) in these ganglia to post-injury events. We investigated cell-to-cell coupling and ultrastructure of SCs in mouse dorsal root ganglia after nerve injury (axotomy). Under control conditions SCs were mutually coupled, but mainly to other SCs around a given neuron. After axotomy SCs became extensively coupled to SCs that enveloped other neurons, apparently by gap junctions. Serial section electron microscopy showed that after axotomy SC sheaths enveloping neighboring neurons formed connections with each other. Such connections were absent in control ganglia. The number of gap junctions between SCs increased 6.5-fold after axotomy. We propose that axotomy induces growth of perineuronal SC sheaths, leading to contacts between SCs enveloping adjacent neurons and to formation of new gap junctions between SCs. These changes may be an important mode of glial plasticity and can contribute to neuropathic pain.

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