R Ruscheweyh, L Forsthuber, D Schoffnegger and J Sandkühler,
The Journal of comparative neurology, May 2007 10
It is functionally important to differentiate between primary afferent neurons with A-fibers, which are nociceptive or nonnociceptive, and C-fibers, which are mainly nociceptive. Neurochemical markers such as neurofilament 200 (NF200), substance P (SP), and isolectin B4 (IB4) have been useful to distinguish between A- and C-fiber neurons. However, the expression patterns of these markers change after peripheral nerve injury, so that it is not clear whether they still distinguish between fiber types in models of neuropathic pain. We identified neurons with Abeta-, Adelta-, and C-fibers by their conduction velocity (corrected for utilization time) in dorsal root ganglia taken from mice after a chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve and control mice, and later stained them for IB4, SP, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), NF200, and neuropeptide Y (NPY). NF200 remained a good marker for A-fiber neurons, and IB4 and SP remained good markers for C-fiber neurons after CCI. NPY was absent in controls but was expressed in A-fiber neurons after CCI. After CCI, a group of C-fiber neurons emerged that expressed none of the tested markers. The size distribution of the markers was investigated in larger samples of unidentified dorsal root ganglion neurons and, together with the results from the identified neurons, provided only limited evidence for the expression of SP in Abeta-fiber neurons after CCI. The extent of up-regulation of NPY showed a strong inverse correlation with the degree of heat hyperalgesia.