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Selective Plasticity Of Primary Afferent Innervation To The Dorsal Horn And Autonomic Nuclei Following Lumbosacral Ventral Root Avulsion And Reimplantation In Long Term Studies

Lisa Wu, J. Wu, Huiyi H Chang, L. Havton
Published 2012 · Medicine

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Previous studies involving injuries to the nerves of the cauda equina and the conus medullaris have shown that lumbosacral ventral root avulsion in rat models results in denervation and dysfunction of the lower urinary tract, retrograde and progressive cell death of the axotomized motor and parasympathetic neurons, as well as the emergence of neuropathic pain. Root reimplantation has also been shown to ameliorate several of these responses, but experiments thus far have been limited to studying the effects of lesion and reimplantation local to the lumbosacral region. Here, we have expanded the region of investigation after lumbosacral ventral root avulsion and reimplantation to include the thoracolumbar sympathetic region of the spinal cord. Using a retrograde tracer injected into the major pelvic ganglion, we were able to define the levels of the spinal cord that contain sympathetic preganglionic neurons innervating the lower urinary tract. We have conducted studies on the effects of the lumbosacral ventral root avulsion and reimplantation models on the afferent innervation of the dorsal horn and autonomic nuclei at both thoracolumbar and lumbosacral levels through immunohistochemistry for the markers calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (VGLUT1). Surprisingly, our experiments reveal a selective and significant decrease of CGRP-positive innervation in the dorsal horn at thoracolumbar levels that is partially restored with root reimplantation. However, no similar changes were detected at the lumbosacral levels despite the injury and repair targeting efferent neurons, and being performed at the lumbosacral levels. Despite the changes evident in the thoracolumbar dorsal horn, we find no changes in afferent innervation of the autonomic nuclei at either sympathetic or parasympathetic segmental levels by CGRP or VGLUT1. We conclude that even remote, efferent root injuries and repair procedures can have an effect on remote and non-lesioned sensory systems sharing common peripheral ganglia.
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