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There is a stereotypical pattern of primary afferent terminations within the mature spinal cord; however, this pattern is not immutable. Peripheral axotomy causes A fibers to sprout into lamina II, a region from which they are normally excluded. We have investigated the role of neurotrophins in this response. Rats which had undergone sciatic axotomy were treated intrathecally with NGF, BDNF, or NT-3. A fibers were visualized using transganglionic labeling with cholera toxin B subunit; small fibers were visualized using CGRP immunostaining. NGF (12 microg/day for 2 weeks), but not NT-3 or BDNF, prevented both the axotomy-induced reduction in CGRP staining within lamina II and the sprouting of A fibers into this region. It is likely that the prevention of A fiber sprouting is a secondary consequence of NGF rescuing small fibers. This effect of NGF on dorsal horn sprouting has implications both for our understanding of the maintenance of CNS connectivity and for the treatment of neuropathic pain states.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Cell Neurosci

Publication Date





211 - 220


Animals, Axons, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide, Cholera Toxin, Denervation, Immunologic Techniques, Male, Nerve Fibers, Nerve Growth Factors, Nerve Regeneration, Neurotrophin 3, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Sciatic Nerve, Spinal Cord, Staining and Labeling