Comparison of sympathetic sprouting in sensory ganglia in three animal models of neuropathic pain
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Sympathetic postganglionic fibers sprout in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) after peripheral nerve injury. Therefore, one possible contributing factor of sympathetic dependency of neuropathic pain is the extent of sympathetic sprouting in the DRG after peripheral nerve injury. The present study compared the extent of sympathetic sprouting in the DRG as well as in the injured peripheral nerve in three rat neuropathic pain models: (1) the chronic constriction injury model (CCI); (2) the partial sciatic nerve ligation injury model (PSI); and (3) the segmental spinal nerve ligation injury model (SSI). All three methods of peripheral nerve injury produced behavioral signs of ongoing and evoked pain with some differences in the magnitude of each pain component. The density of sympathetic fibers in the DRG was significantly higher at all examined postoperative times than controls in the SSI model, while it was somewhat higher than controls only at the last examined postoperative time (20 weeks) in the CCI and PSI models. Therefore, data suggest that, although sympathetic changes in the DRG may contribute to neuropathic pain syndromes in the SSI model, other mechanisms seem to be more important in the CCI and PSI models at early times following peripheral nerve injury.
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