Neuronal plasticity along the pathway for sensory transmission including the spinal cord and cortex plays an important role in chronic pain, including inflammatory and neuropathic pain. While recent studies indicate that microglia in the spinal cord are involved in neuropathic pain, a systematic study has not been performed in other regions of the central nervous system (CNS). In the present study, we used heterozygous Cx3cr1GFP/+mice to characterize the morphological phenotypes of microglia following common peroneal nerve (CPN) ligation. We found that microglia showed a uniform distribution throughout the CNS, and peripheral nerve injury selectively activated microglia in the spinal cord dorsal horn and related ventral horn. In contrast, microglia was not activated in supraspinal regions of the CNS, including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), prefrontal cortex (PFC), primary and secondary somatosensory cortex (S1 and S2), insular cortex (IC), amygdala, hippocampus, periaqueductal gray (PAG) and rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM). Our results provide strong evidence that nerve injury primarily activates microglia in the spinal cord of adult mice, and pain-related cortical plasticity is likely mediated by neurons.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine