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American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology

The effect of spinal cord injury on the neurochemical properties of vagal sensory neurons.


PMID 25855310

Abstract

The vagus nerve is composed primarily of nonmyelinated sensory neurons whose cell bodies are located in the nodose ganglion (NG). The vagus has widespread projections that supply most visceral organs, including the bladder. Because of its nonspinal route, the vagus nerve itself is not directly damaged from spinal cord injury (SCI). Because most viscera, including bladder, are dually innervated by spinal and vagal sensory neurons, an impact of SCI on the sensory component of vagal circuitry may contribute to post-SCI visceral pathologies. To determine whether SCI, in male Wistar rats, might impact neurochemical characteristics of NG neurons, immunohistochemical assessments were performed for P2X3 receptor expression, isolectin B4 (IB4) binding, and substance P expression, three known injury-responsive markers in sensory neuronal subpopulations. In addition to examining the overall population of NG neurons, those innervating the urinary bladder also were assessed separately. All three of the molecular markers were represented in the NG from noninjured animals, with the majority of the neurons binding IB4. In the chronically injured rats, there was a significant increase in the number of NG neurons expressing P2X3 and a significant decrease in the number binding IB4 compared with noninjured animals, a finding that held true also for the bladder-innervating population. Overall, these results indicate that vagal afferents, including those innervating the bladder, display neurochemical plasticity post-SCI that may have implications for visceral homeostatic mechanisms and nociceptive signaling.

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