The occurrence of sprouting in the spinal cord in response to denervation has been a subject of debate. To test for sprouting of primary afferent fibers after denervation, rats were unilaterally deafferented for 35 days (chronic side) by dorsal rhizotomies performed from T2 to T8 and T10 to L5, thus isolating or sparing the T9 root. The contralateral T9 root was spared by a similar surgery 5 days (acute side) prior to sacrifice. The survival time on the chronic side presumably allows intraspinal sprouting of T9 primary afferents to occur whereas the time on the acute side does not. To test for sprouting of primary afferents, it is necessary to identify these nerve processes. Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) immunoreactivity has been localized to a subpopulation of primary afferent nerve processes and their terminals within the dorsal horn. Therefore, immunohistochemical methods were used to determine the distribution of CGRP immunoreactivity in laminae I and II on both sides of the spinal cord. Using image analysis, there was an increase of 153 to 704% in the density of CGRP immunoreaction product on the chronic side compared to the acute side in the spared segment. This difference is statistically significant. Furthermore, the increased density on the chronic side extended two segments cranial and two segments caudal to the spared root segment. No difference was found in the laminar distribution between sides. These data support the hypothesis of primary afferent sprouting following spinal cord denervation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience