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Brain Behav Immun. 2007 Jul;21(5):599-616. Epub 2006 Dec 21.

Immune cell involvement in dorsal root ganglia and spinal cord after chronic constriction or transection of the rat sciatic nerve.

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Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia.


Chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve in rodents produces mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia and is a common model of neuropathic pain. Here we compare the inflammatory responses in L4/5 dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) and spinal segments after CCI with those after transection and ligation at the same site. Expression of ATF3 after one week implied that 75% of sensory and 100% of motor neurones had been axotomized after CCI. Macrophage invasion of DRGs and microglial and astrocytic activation in the spinal cord were qualitatively similar but quantitatively distinct between the lesions. The macrophage and glial reactions around neurone somata in DRGs and ventral horn were slightly greater after transection than CCI while, in the dorsal horn, microglial activation (using markers OX-42(for CD11b) and ED1(for CD68)) was greater after CCI. In DRGs, macrophages positive for OX-42(CD11b), CD4, MHC II and ED1(CD68) more frequently formed perineuronal rings beneath the glial sheath of ATF3+ medium to large neurone somata after CCI. There were more invading MHC II+ macrophages lacking OX-42(CD11b)/CD4/ED1(CD68) after transection. MHC I was expressed in DRGs and in spinal sciatic territories to a similar extent after both lesions. CD8+ T-lymphocytes aggregated to a greater extent both in DRGs and the dorsal horn after CCI, but in the ventral horn after transection. This occurred mainly by migration, additional T-cells being recruited only after CCI. Some of these were probably CD4+. It appears that inflammation of the peripheral nerve trunk after CCI triggers an adaptive immune response not seen after axotomy.

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