Neuropeptide expression following constriction or section of the inferior alveolar nerve in the ferret
Abstract Some of the sensory abnormalities that follow peripheral nerve injury may result from the development of ectopic discharge from the damaged axons. Previous studies in our laboratory have shown that, following tight ligation of the inferior alveolar nerve (IAN), there is a close association between the time‐course of this neural activity and the accumulation of neuropeptides at the injury site. In this study we investigated whether the type of injury has any effect on the time‐course or level of neuropeptide expression. In 36 adult ferrets, the IAN was either loosely constricted or sectioned, and the animals left to recover for 3 days, 3 weeks, or 3 months. The tissue was processed using indirect immunofluorescence and image analysis was used to quantify levels of substance P, calcitonin gene‐related peptide, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, enkephalin, galanin, and neuropeptide Y. Immunoreactivity to all of the neuropeptides was present within the injured nerve 3 days after both types of injury, and decreased to lower levels by 3 weeks and 3 months. Comparisons between the levels of neuropeptide immunoreactivity in each group revealed that the pattern of accumulation was similar following loose constriction or section, and also similar to that found in our previous study on tight ligation. For each injury the time‐course of neuropeptide expression was similar to that of the spontaneous activity we had previously recorded. These data support the suggestion that neuropeptide accumulation may be linked to the development of ectopic neural activity but indicate that the type of injury has little effect on the extent of expression.
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