The cell bodies of sensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) are enveloped by satellite glial cells (SGCs). In an animal model of intervertebral foraminal stenosis and low-back pain, a chronic compression of the DRG (CCD) increases the excitability of neuronal cell bodies in the compressed ganglion. The morphological and electrophysiological properties of SGCs were investigated in both CCD and uninjured, control lumbar DRGs. SGCs responded within 12 h of the onset of CCD as indicated by an increased expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in the compressed DRG but to lesser extent in neighboring or contralateral DRGs. Within 1 week, coupling through gap junctions between SGCs was significantly enhanced in the compressed ganglion. Under whole-cell patch clamp recordings, inward and outward potassium currents, but not sodium currents, were detected in individual SGCs. SGCs enveloping differently sized neurons had similar electrophysiological properties. SGCs in the compressed vs. control DRG exhibited significantly reduced inwardly rectifying potassium currents (Kir), increased input resistances and positively shifted resting membrane potentials. The reduction in Kir was greater for nociceptive medium-sized neurons compared to non-nociceptive neurons. Kir currents of SGCs around spontaneously active neurons were significantly reduced 1 day after compression but recovered by 7 days. These data demonstrate rapid alterations in glial membrane currents and GFAP expression in close temporal association with the development of neuronal hyperexcitability in the CCD model of neuropathic pain. However, these alterations are not fully sustained and suggest other mechanisms for the maintenance of the hyperexcitable state.
- Gap junction
- Intraforaminal stenosis
- Kir current
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience