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J Comp Neurol. 2010 Jan 1;518(1):64-74. doi: 10.1002/cne.22209.

Depression of Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II in dorsal root ganglion neurons after spinal nerve ligation.

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Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, University of Split School of Medicine, 21000 Split, Croatia.


The enzyme calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is associated with memory and its alpha isoform is critical for development of activity-induced synaptic changes. Therefore, we hypothesized that CaMKII is involved in altered function of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons after neuronal injury. To test this hypothesis, Sprague-Dawley rats were made hyperalgesic by L5 and L6 spinal nerve ligation (SNL), and changes in total phosphorylated and unphosphorylated CaMKII (tCaMKII) and phosphorylated form of its alpha isoform (pCaMKIIalpha) were analyzed using immunochemistry in different subpopulations of DRG. SNL did not induce any changes in tCaMKII between experimental groups, while the overall percentage of pCaMKIIalpha-positive neurons in injured L5 DRG SNL (24.8%) decreased significantly when compared to control (41.7%). SNL did not change the percentage of pCaMKIIalpha/N52 colabeled neurons but decreased the percentage of N52-negative nonmyelinated neurons that expressed pCaMKIIalpha from 27% in control animals to 11% after axotomy. We also observed a significant decrease in the percentage of small nonpeptidergic neurons labeled with IB4 (37.6% in control vs. 4.0% in L5 SNL DRG), as well as a decrease in the percentage of pCaMKIIalpha/IB4 colabeled neurons in injured L5 DRGs (27% in control vs. 1% in L5 DRG of SNL group). Our results show that reduction in pCaMKIIalpha levels following peripheral injury is due to the loss of IB4-positive neurons. These results indicate that diminished afferent activity after axotomy may lead to decreased phosphorylation of CaMKIIalpha.

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