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Neuroscience. 2010 Oct 27;170(3):942-53. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.07.034. Epub 2010 Jul 29.

Characterization of nestin expression in the spinal cord of GFP transgenic mice after peripheral nerve injury.

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Department of Medical Chemistry, Kansai Medical University, Moriguchi, Osaka 570-8506, Japan.


Many studies have shown that activation and increase in the number of astrocytes and microglia in the spinal cord participate in the initiation and maintenance of neuropathic pain, but little attention has been paid to the responses of neural progenitor cells to peripheral nerve injury. Nestin, a class VI intermediate filament protein, is expressed both in neuronal and glial progenitors as well as in their common precursors; and nestin-positive cells appear in the brain and spinal cord following various forms of damage to these regions. To clarify the responses of neural progenitor cells to nerve injury, we applied L5 spinal nerve transection (L5-SNT) to nestin-promoter GFP (pNestin-GFP) transgenic mice to narrow the target to them. While pNestin-GFP expression was strongly retained in the ependyma lining the central canal of the transgenic spinal cord even in adulthood, it was markedly reduced in the dorsal horn during postnatal development by day 7. Increases in pNestin-GFP expression and labeling by the proliferation marker 5-bromodeoxyuridine were broadly found in the dorsal horn of adult mice on day 3 after L5-SNT. On the other hand, the activation and increase in number of microglia and astrocytes are restricted to the superficial layer of the dorsal horn, the central terminal of injured primary afferent fibers. Purinergic P2X agonist α, β-MeATP increased [Ca(2+)]i in nestin-positive cells in the superficial layer ipsilateral to nerve injury and P2 receptor antagonists suramin and pyridoxalphosphate-6-azophenyl-2,4-disulphonic acid (PPADS) blocked the expression and elongation of pNestin-GFP fibers in the slice culture of the spinal cord. These results with pNestin-GFP transgenic mice demonstrate that nestin-positive cells proliferate in the dorsal horn in response to peripheral nerve injury and suggest that ATP may contribute to the expression of nestin and activation of neural progenitor cells after nerve injury.

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