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A quantitative analysis of the microglial cell reaction in central primary sensory projection territories following peripheral nerve injury in the adult rat

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The time course of the microglial cell reaction in central nervous system primary sensory projection territories has been examined following peripheral nerve injury in the adult rat using qualitative and quantitative analysis of immunoreactivity with the monoclonal antibody OX-42, which recognises the complement receptor CR3. The regions examined included the gracile nucleus, the column of Clarke and the spinal cord dorsal horn (superficial and deep laminae separately) after unilateral sciatic nerve transection, and the spinal trigeminal nucleus following unilateral infraorbital nerve transection. In all territories examined a qualitative increase in OX-42 immunoreactivity was observed 24 h postlesion. Further, quantitative analysis revealed an exponential development of the OX-42 immunoreactivity, with a peak at one week postlesion, thereafter showing a slow exponential decline. Our results show that the signal (or signals) that induces the microglial cell response in primary sensory projection territories is rapid in comparison to previously described central degenerative changes following peripheral nerve lesions (transganglionic degeneration). These findings are compatible with the hypothesis that activated microglia play a pathogenetic role in the development of transganglionic degeneration.

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Eriksson, N.P., Persson, J.K.E., Svensson, M. et al. A quantitative analysis of the microglial cell reaction in central primary sensory projection territories following peripheral nerve injury in the adult rat. Exp Brain Res 96, 19–27 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00230435

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Key words

  • Dorsal column nuclei
  • Gracile nucleus
  • Primary sensory neuron
  • Dorsal horn
  • Glia
  • Rat