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Damage to the inferior alveolar nerve (IAN) may result in permanent painful dysaesthesia, and there is compelling evidence to suggest that ectopic activity from the injury site plays a crucial role in the initiation of this disorder. The aim of this study was to determine whether neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), a regulator of neuronal excitability, could be involved in the development of the abnormal activity. In seven ferrets, the left IAN was exposed and a retrograde tracer, fluorogold, was applied to the nerve for the identification of cell bodies in the trigeminal ganglion with axons in the IAN. In four animals, the nerve was sectioned distal to the injection site, and three served as controls. After 3 days, the animals were perfused with fixative, and the left and right IANs and trigeminal ganglia were processed using indirect immunofluorescence for nNOS. Image analysis was used to quantify the percentage area of staining (PAS) at the injury site. In the ganglia, counts were made of positively labelled cells in the fluorogold population. At the injury site, PAS was significantly greater in injured nerves than in either contralateral or control nerves, and contralateral PAS was elevated compared to control. In the ganglia, the proportion of nNOS-labelled cells was significantly reduced following injury. These results indicate a possible translocation of the nNOS protein from the cell body to the site of nerve injury, where it accumulates. Thus, nNOS could play a role in the development of ectopic activity at a site of trigeminal nerve injury.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Res

Publication Date





11 - 17


Animals, Cell Count, Cranial Nerve Injuries, Diagnostic Imaging, Ferrets, Fluorescent Dyes, Functional Laterality, Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic, Immunohistochemistry, Mandibular Nerve, Nitric Oxide Synthase, Nitric Oxide Synthase Type I, Stilbamidines, Trigeminal Nerve Injuries