It is well documented that there is an increase in the number of sympathetic fibers within the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) after a peripheral nerve injury. The present study examined the numbers and distribution of sympathetic fibers in the DRG and their sprouting routes by utilizing various surgical manipulations and retrograde tracing and immunohistochemical staining methods in spinal nerve-ligated neuropathic rats. The appearance of many double immunostained fibers with antibodies to tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and growth associated protein-43 (GAP-43) in the L5 DRG 1 week after L5 spinal nerve ligation, indicated sprouting of sympathetic fibers. The confined location of early sprouting sympathetic fibers in the distal half of the L5 DRG confirmed that sprouting fibers come primarily from the injured spinal nerve. A second cut proximal to the previously ligated L5 spinal nerve - a process which would transect the regenerating sympathetic fibers extending from the injury site - did not change the density of sympathetic fibers in the L5 DRG. When retrograde tracers (fast blue and diamidino yellow) were injected into the L5 spinal nerve and DRG, respectively, the number of double-labeled sympathetic postganglionic neurons was greatly increased after spinal nerve ligation, suggesting the increased number of sympathetic neurons projecting to both the spinal nerve and DRG. All these results indicate that many sympathetic fibers in the DRG are regenerating branches that are sprouting from the proximal part of the injured spinal nerve (regenerative collateral sprouting).
- Neuropathic pain
- Sympathetically maintained pain
- Tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreaction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Clinical Neurology
- Developmental Biology