Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Pain. 1996 Jan;64(1):37-57.

Fixed-diameter polyethylene cuffs applied to the rat sciatic nerve induce a painful neuropathy: ultrastructural morphometric analysis of axonal alterations.

Author information

Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, UCLA 90024-1763, USA.


Polyethylene cuffs of varying inner diameters were applied to the rat sciatic or sural nerve with the aim of inducing a standardized nerve injury, as assessed by morphometric analyses of fiber-size spectrum alterations, associated with behavioral manifestations of neuropathic pain. The temporal sequence of axonal degeneration and regeneration was examined in parallel with behavioral analyses of pain initiation and recovery over a 6-week postoperative (PO) period. Cuffs of 0.028-0.030" inner diameter loosely enclosed sciatic nerves of young rats and elicited relatively uniform axonal degeneration and 'pain'. Large myelinated axons underwent an early and sustained numerical depletion. Both the thinly myelinated and unmyelinated axon populations were initially diminished, but later rose to levels significantly greater than control values, likely the result of: (1) demyelination, (2) early stages of remyelination, (3) regenerative sprouting, and/or (4) collateral sprouting of undamaged unmyelinated axons. Pathological alterations of the injured nerve included edematous swelling, hypertrophy of the perineurial sheath, infiltration of fibroblasts and collagen into the intraneurial compartment, increasing interaxonal space and decreasing order and density of axonal packing. Animals displayed maximal pain-related behaviors, including gait and postural asymmetries and hypersensitivity to mechanical compression and cold, during the 2nd week PO and had largely recovered by approximately 4 weeks PO. Consistent behavioral manifestations of pain were achieved over a wide range of fiber spectrum alteration; however, with the largest cuffs or 'bracelets' used in this study, a substantial axonal fiber spectrum change was produced without inducing pain-related behavior, suggesting that decrement in the number of myelinated axons was not always sufficient to elicit pain. Similar morphometric and pathological results were achieved with sural neuropathy after 0.010" ID cuffs and 14 days PO survival. Considering the lack of correlation between axonal alterations and pain, modification in the local intraneurial microenvironment at the site of injury may be a key component of peripheral pain mechanisms; these include changes in the biochemical milieu, increased intraneurial pressure, and altered nociceptor sensitivity or impulse propagation in the relatively intact unmyelinated axon population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wolters Kluwer
    Loading ...
    Support Center