The number of c-Fos protein-like immunoreactive (c-Fos-IR) neurons in the spinal dorsal horn evoked by noxious stimulation was previously shown to be increased following peripheral nerve injury, and this increase was proposed to reflect the neuropathic pain state. The aim of this study was to investigate whether anomalous convergent primary afferent input to spinal dorsal horn neurons contributed to nerve injury-induced c-Fos hyperinducibility. Double immunofluorescence labeling for c-Fos and phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (p-ERK) was performed to detect convergent synaptic input from different branches of the sciatic nerve after injury to the tibial nerve. c-Fos expression and the phosphorylation of ERK were induced by noxious heat stimulation of the hindpaw and also by electrical stimulation (ES) of the injured tibial nerve, respectively. The number of c-Fos-IR neurons was significantly decreased 3 days after the injury. However, the number of c-Fos-IR neurons returned to the control level 14 days after the injury. P-ERK immunoreactive (p-ERK-IR) neurons were induced in the central terminal field of the tibial nerve by ES of the tibial nerve. The topographic distribution pattern and number of such p-ERK-IR neurons remained unchanged after the nerve injury. The time course of changes in the number of double-labeled neurons, that presumably received convergent primary afferent input, showed a pattern similar to that of c-Fos-IR neurons after the injury. These results indicate that convergent primary nociceptive input through neighboring intact nerves may contribute to c-Fos hyperinducibility in the spinal dorsal horn.
- Nerve injury
- Spinal dorsal horn
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience