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Neuroscience. 1989;33(3):587-604.

Neuropeptide expression in rat dorsal root ganglion cells and spinal cord after peripheral nerve injury with special reference to galanin.

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Department of Histology and Neurobiology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


The temporal course of changes in peptide expression in the dorsal root ganglia L4 and L5 and in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord has been studied in rats subjected to a sciatic nerve transection at a mid-thigh level following different survival times. Galanin-, substance P-, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-, peptide histidine-isoleucine- and calcitonin gene-related peptide-like immunoreactivities have been studied both by immunohistochemistry and radioimmunoassay. Galanin messenger ribonucleic acid has also been studied by in situ hybridization in the dorsal root ganglia of normal and lesioned animals. In addition, a group of animals with a sciatic nerve crush was studied to compare possible differences in peptide expression after both types of lesions. The results show that the transection induces an increase in the number of cell bodies expressing galanin-like immunoreactivity in the ganglia, and that the galanin levels rise about 120-fold after three and 14 days of survival. This increase reflected increased synthesis of the peptide, since there was a rise in the galanin messenger ribonucleic acid already at 24 h post-lesion, which was maintained for at least 60 days. In the spinal cord there was an increase of staining in the midportion of the outer layers of the dorsal horn that corresponded to fibers thought to arise from cells of the dorsal root ganglia affected by the transection. Also a depletion of substance P-like and an increase in vasoactive intestinal polypeptide- and peptide histidine-isoleucine-like immunoreactivities in the dorsal root ganglia were confirmed. These changes were shown to be rapidly detectable and were paralleled by similar changes in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. For calcitonin gene-related peptide the immunohistochemistry was inconclusive, and the radioimmunoassay showed no detectable changes. After nerve crush a transient increase in the number of galanin immunoreactive neurons was observed, as well as a decrease in the number of neurons showing substance P-like immunoreactivity. These changes were most noticeable between six and 14 days of survival. After this, peptide expression seemed to return slowly to normal, that is by day 45 post-crush only a few cells showed galanin-like, and many sensory neurons expressed substance P-like immunoreactivity. The results demonstrate that when primary sensory neurons are peripherally lesioned they respond in a complex manner, altering their normal production of peptides by increasing or decreasing their synthesis.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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