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Neuroscience. 1997 Nov;81(2):527-34.

Loss of dorsal root ganglion cells concomitant with dorsal root axon sprouting following segmental nerve lesions.

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Marine Biomedical Institute, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-1069, USA.


Tight ligation of the fifth and sixth lumbar segmental nerves in the rat provides a model of neuropathic pain. We used this model to assess the changes in primary afferent input to the dorsal horn in neuropathic pain syndromes. Dorsal roots and ganglia were examined for up to 32 weeks following segmental nerve ligation. Stereologic and morphometric techniques revealed a notable decrease in the numbers of dorsal root ganglion cells and unmyelinated dorsal root axons by six weeks post-injury. By 32 weeks following segmental nerve ligations, the numbers of dorsal root ganglion cells have dropped to 50% of pre-ligation levels while the numbers of dorsal root axons have increased to normal levels predominantly due to sprouting of myelinated fibres. These findings indicate that although there is a great loss of dorsal root ganglion cells, there is dramatic sprouting of myelinated fibres and possibly some sprouting of unmyelinated fibres in the dorsal roots. Additionally, a difference in the responses of unmyelinated and myelinated fibres to this peripheral nerve injury is revealed. These changes in dorsal root ganglion cells and their central axons may underlie certain aspects of abnormal pain syndromes because of changes in the types and quantity of input the dorsal horn receives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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