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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Mar 2022 - 25 Mar 2022

2022 Mar 15

Exp Neurol

Dorsal horn neuronal sparing predicts the development of at-level mechanical allodynia following cervical spinal cord injury in mice.


Dietz V, Knox K, Moore S, Roberts N, Corona K K, Dulin JN
Exp Neurol. 2022 Mar 15:114048.
PMID: 35304102.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) frequently results in immediate and sustained neurological dysfunction, including intractable neuropathic pain in approximately 60-80% of individuals. SCI induces immediate mechanical damage to spinal cord tissue followed by a period of secondary injury in which tissue damage is further propagated, contributing to the development of anatomically unique lesions. Variability in lesion size and location influences the degree of motor and sensory dysfunction incurred by an individual. We predicted that variability in lesion parameters may also explain why some, but not all, experimental animals develop mechanical sensitivity after SCI. To characterize the relationship of lesion anatomy to mechanical allodynia, we utilized a mouse cervical hemicontusion model of SCI that has been shown to lead to the development and persistence of mechanical allodynia in the ipsilateral forelimb after injury. At four weeks post-SCI, the numbers and locations of surviving neurons were quantified along with total lesion volume and nociceptive fiber sprouting. We found that the subset of animals exhibiting mechanical allodynia had significantly increased neuronal sparing in the ipsilateral dorsal horn around the lesion epicenter compared to animals that did not exhibit mechanical allodynia. Additionally, we failed to observe significant differences between groups in nociceptive fiber density in the dorsal horn around the lesion epicenter. Notably, we found that impactor probe displacement upon administration of the SCI surgery was significantly lower in sensitive animals compared with not-sensitive animals. Together, our data indicate that lesion severity negatively correlates with the manifestation of at-level mechanical hypersensitivity and suggests that sparing of dorsal horn neurons may be required for the development of neuropathic pain.