Sprouting sympathetic fibers form synaptic varicosities in the dorsal root ganglion of the rat with neuropathic injury

Brain Research
K ChungJ M Chung


Peripheral nerve injury in a rat model (spinal nerve ligation) of neuropathic pain triggers sprouting of sympathetic fibers in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG). This sympathetic sprouting has been suggested as an important underlying mechanism for pain behaviors. To investigate the possibility of functional interaction between sprouted sympathetic fibers and sensory neurons, the present study examined the fine morphology and structural relationship between sympathetic fibers and the DRG neurons by electron microscopy. Sympathetic postganglionic fibers, as identified by electron microscopic immunostaining for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), were all unmyelinated fibers and some of them ended as growth cones. In addition, many vesicle-containing axonal enlargements (we will refer these as synaptic varicosities) were found in the interstitial space around DRG neurons, and some were enclosed within the satellite cell capsule which surrounded the DRG soma. The presence of sympathetic synaptic varicosities near or in apposition with either the DRG somata or their processes provides a structural basis for possible interactions between sensory neurons and sympathetic fibers in the DRG of neuropathic rats.


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