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Papers of the Week

2021 Nov 26

Int J Mol Sci



Macrophage Activation in the Dorsal Root Ganglion in Rats Developing Autotomy after Peripheral Nerve Injury.


Xu X, Zhou X, Du J, Liu X, Qing L, Johnson BN, Jia X
Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Nov 26; 22(23).
PMID: 34884605.


Autotomy, self-mutilation of a denervated limb, is common in animals after peripheral nerve injury (PNI) and is a reliable proxy for neuropathic pain in humans. Understanding the occurrence and treatment of autotomy remains challenging. The objective of this study was to investigate the occurrence of autotomy in nude and Wistar rats and evaluate the differences in macrophage activation and fiber sensitization contributing to the understanding of autotomy behavior. Autotomy in nude and Wistar rats was observed and evaluated 6 and 12 weeks after sciatic nerve repair surgery. The numbers of macrophages and the types of neurons in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) between the two groups were compared by immunofluorescence studies. Immunostaining of T cells in the DRG was also assessed. Nude rats engaged in autotomy with less frequency than Wistar rats. Autotomy symptoms were also relatively less severe in nude rats. Immunofluorescence studies revealed increased macrophage accumulation and activation in the DRG of Wistar rats. The percentage of NF200+ neurons was higher at 6 and 12 weeks in Wistar rats compared to nude rats, but the percentage of CGRP+ neurons did not differ between two groups. Additionally, macrophages were concentrated around NF200-labeled A fibers. At 6 and 12 weeks following PNI, CD4+ T cells were not found in the DRG of the two groups. The accumulation and activation of macrophages in the DRG may account for the increased frequency and severity of autotomy in Wistar rats. Our results also suggest that A fiber neurons in the DRG play an important role in autotomy.