By immunohistochemistry, an effect of nerve injury on distribution of alpha-2/delta-1 subunit of L-type calcium channel was investigated in rat's 4th and 5th lumbar dorsal root ganglia (DRGs), trigeminal ganglion (TG), and mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus (Mes5). The immunoreactivity was expressed by 52.2% of DRG neurons and 31.4% of TG neurons in intact animals. These neurons mostly had small-to-medium-sized cell bodies. In the DRG and TG, alpha-2/delta-1 subunit-positive neurons were lightly or moderately stained. However, the number of alpha-2/delta-1 subunit-immunoreactive (-IR) neurons dramatically increased in the ipsilateral DRG at 3-28 days after sciatic nerve transection (75.3-79.5%) and in the ipsilateral TG at 7 days after infraorbital nerve transection (66.3%). The IR density of alpha-2/delta-1 subunit in DRG and TG neurons was also elevated by the transection. In the injured DRG and TG, many sensory neurons with small-to-medium-sized cell bodies were strongly stained. Some large DRG and TG neurons showing strong staining intensity also appeared after the treatment. In the intact Mes5, sensory neurons were mostly devoid of alpha-2/delta-1 subunit-immunoreactivity (0.4%). However, alpha-2/delta-1-IR sensory neurons on the ipsilateral side of the Mes5 dramatically increased at 7 days after masseteric nerve transection (31.3%). A double immunofluorescence method also demonstrated that c-Jun activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3)-positive DRG (98.3-99.9%) and Mes5 (81.8%) neurons mostly co-expressed alpha-2/delta-1 subunit after the nerve injuries. However, alpha-2/delta-1 subunit immunoreactivity was relatively infrequent among ATF3-immunonegative DRG neurons (51.6-74.1%) and Mes5 neurons (<1%). The present study indicates that the nerve injury increases the protein level of alpha-2/delta-1 subunit among several types of axotomized sensory neurons in the spinal and trigeminal nervous systems.
- Alpha-2/delta-1 subunit
- Dorsal root ganglion
- L-type calcium channel complex
- Nerve injury