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Concept: Dorsal root ganglion


Little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying mammalian touch transduction. To identify novel candidate transducers, we examined the molecular and cellular basis of touch in one of the most sensitive tactile organs in the animal kingdom, the star of the star-nosed mole. Our findings demonstrate that the trigeminal ganglia innervating the star are enriched in tactile-sensitive neurons, resulting in a higher proportion of light touch fibers and lower proportion of nociceptors compared to the dorsal root ganglia innervating the rest of the body. We exploit this difference using transcriptome analysis of the star-nosed mole sensory ganglia to identify novel candidate mammalian touch and pain transducers. The most enriched candidates are also expressed in mouse somatosesensory ganglia, suggesting they may mediate transduction in diverse species and are not unique to moles. These findings highlight the utility of examining diverse and specialized species to address fundamental questions in mammalian biology.

Concepts: Nervous system, Ganglion, Dorsal root ganglion, Sensory system, Skin, Somatosensory system, Nociception, Talpidae


Dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons spontaneously undergo neurite growth after nerve injury. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), as small, non-coding RNAs, negatively regulate gene expression in a variety of biological processes. The roles of miRNAs in the regulation of responses of DRG neurons to injury stimuli, however, are not fully understood. Here, microarray analysis was performed to profile the miRNAs in L4-L6 DRGs following rat sciatic nerve transection. The 26 known miRNAs were differentially expressed at 0, 1, 4, 7, 14 d post injury, and the potential targets of the miRNAs were involved in nerve regeneration, as analyzed by bioinformatics. Among the 26 miRNAs, microRNA-222 (miR-222) was our research focus because its increased expression promoted neurite outgrowth while it silencing by miR-222 inhibitor reduced neurite outgrowth. Knockdown experiments confirmed that phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN), a major inhibitor of nerve regeneration, was a direct target of miR-222 in DRG neurons. In addition, we found that miR-222 might regulate the phosphorylation of cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) through PTEN, and c-Jun activation might enhance the miR-222 expression. Collectively, our data suggest that miR-222 could regulate neurite outgrowth from DRG neurons by targeting PTEN.

Concepts: Nervous system, DNA, Ganglion, Dorsal root ganglion, Gene, Gene expression, RNA, Transcription factor


Animal and human studies indicate that electrical stimulation of DRG neurons may modulate neuropathic pain signals.ACCURATE, a pivotal, prospective, multi-center, randomized-comparative effectiveness trial, was conducted in 152 subjects diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or causalgia in the lower extremities. Subjects received neurostimulation of the DRG or dorsal column (SCS). The primary endpoint was a composite of safety and efficacy at 3 months and subjects were assessed through 12 months for long term outcomes and adverse events. The pre-defined primary composite endpoint of treatment success was met for subjects with a permanent implant who reported 50% or greater decrease in VAS from pre-implant baseline and who did not report any stimulation-related neurological deficits.No subjects reported stimulation-related neurological deficits. The percentage of subjects receiving ≥ 50% pain relief and treatment success was greater in the DRG arm (81.2%) versus the SCS arm (55.7%, p<0.001) at 3 months. Device-related and serious adverse events were not different between the 2 groups. DRG stimulation also demonstrated greater improvements in quality of life and psychological disposition. Finally, subjects using DRG stimulation reported less postural variation in paresthesia (p<0.001) and reduced extraneous stimulation in non-painful areas (p=0.014), indicating DRG stimulation provided more targeted therapy to painful parts of the lower extremities.As the largest prospective, randomized comparative effectiveness trial to date, the results show DRG stimulation provided a higher rate of treatment success with less postural variation in paresthesia intensity compared to SCS.

Concepts: Nervous system, Dorsal root ganglion, Neurology, Pain, Nociception, Suffering, Complex regional pain syndrome, Peripheral neuropathy


The integration of somatosensory information is generally assumed to be a function of the central nervous system (CNS). Here we describe fully functional GABAergic communication within rodent peripheral sensory ganglia and show that it can modulate transmission of pain-related signals from the peripheral sensory nerves to the CNS. We found that sensory neurons express major proteins necessary for GABA synthesis and release and that sensory neurons released GABA in response to depolarization. In vivo focal infusion of GABA or GABA reuptake inhibitor to sensory ganglia dramatically reduced acute peripherally induced nociception and alleviated neuropathic and inflammatory pain. In addition, focal application of GABA receptor antagonists to sensory ganglia triggered or exacerbated peripherally induced nociception. We also demonstrated that chemogenetic or optogenetic depolarization of GABAergic dorsal root ganglion neurons in vivo reduced acute and chronic peripherally induced nociception. Mechanistically, GABA depolarized the majority of sensory neuron somata, yet produced a net inhibitory effect on the nociceptive transmission due to the filtering effect at nociceptive fiber T-junctions. Our findings indicate that peripheral somatosensory ganglia represent a hitherto underappreciated site of somatosensory signal integration and offer a potential target for therapeutic intervention.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Ganglion, Dorsal root ganglion, Pain, Sensory system, Neurotransmitter, Gamma-Aminobutyric acid


Itch-specific neurons have been sought for decades. The existence of such neurons has been doubted recently as a result of the observation that itch-mediating neurons also respond to painful stimuli. We genetically labeled and manipulated MrgprA3(+) neurons in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and found that they exclusively innervated the epidermis of the skin and responded to multiple pruritogens. Ablation of MrgprA3(+) neurons led to substantial reductions in scratching evoked by multiple pruritogens and occurring spontaneously under chronic itch conditions, whereas pain sensitivity remained intact. Notably, mice in which TRPV1 was exclusively expressed in MrgprA3(+) neurons exhibited itch, but not pain, behavior in response to capsaicin. Although MrgprA3(+) neurons were sensitive to noxious heat, activation of TRPV1 in these neurons by noxious heat did not alter pain behavior. These data suggest that MrgprA3 defines a specific subpopulation of DRG neurons mediating itch. Our study opens new avenues for studying itch and developing anti-pruritic therapies.

Concepts: Nervous system, Ganglion, Dorsal root ganglion, Pain, Skin, Nociception, Nociceptor, Peripheral neuropathy


To date, few studies have investigated the cause of pain experienced by patients with frozen shoulder. The purposes of this study were to establish a rat contracture model and clarify the innervation pattern of the glenohumeral (GH) joint and subacromial bursa (SAB) using immunohistochemistry in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Ganglion, Dorsal root ganglion, Philosophy of science, Concepts in metaphysics, Cultural studies, Shoulder


The spinal canal is frequently a source of difficulties, traps and diagnostic errors. Pitfalls related to artifacts are resolved by using appropriate sequences. Good knowledge of the appearance of certain particular anatomical structures (the cauda equina roots, the radicular veins of the lumbar spine and conus medullaris, the dorsal root ganglion) and of frequent variants (fibrolipoma of the filum terminale, common root sheaths, root cysts) will avoid a good many errors. Dilatation of epidural veins in intracranial hypotension can simulate the contrast enhancement of a tumour. An increase in epidural fat can induce pathogenic stenosis of the dural sheath.

Concepts: Spinal cord, Dorsal root ganglion, Lumbar vertebrae, Vertebral column, Lumbar puncture, Cauda equina, Filum terminale, Conus medullaris


Peripheral neuropathy is a common side effect of the chemotherapeutic agent oxaliplatin (Oxp), and is associated with hypersensitivity to cold sensation in the acute stage. Recently, gosha-jinki-gan (GJG), a Japanese herbal medicine, was reported to improve Oxp-induced cold hypersensitivity. However, the mechanism for this effect was not elucidated. We hypothesized that the effect of GJG on Oxp-induced cold hypersensitivity may be associated with the expression of the transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) and transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) channels, which are cold-gated ion channels. To assess this hypothesis, we examined alteration of the withdrawal response to cold stimulation following coadministration of GJG and Oxp in rats, and the relationship between this altered withdrawal response and the expression of TRPM8 and TRPA1 mRNA in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG). Assessment of cold hypersensitivity was performed at 4 and 10°C using a cold plate. Compared with Oxp administration alone, coadministration of GJG (oral dose: 1 g/kg/day for 12 days) and Oxp (intraperitoneal dose: 4 mg/kg twice a week) significantly reduced the withdrawal response to cold stimulation. On the 12th day of drug administration, the L4-L6 DRG were removed and the expression of TRPM8 and TRPA1 mRNA was determined using RT-PCR. The expression of TRPM8 and TRPA1 in the DRG of rats that were coadministered GJG and Oxp decreased significantly compared with that in the rats administered Oxp alone. These results suggest that coadministration of GJG may improve Oxp-induced cold hypersensitivity by suppressing the overexpression of TRPM8 and TRPA1 mRNA.

Concepts: Immune system, Nervous system, DNA, Dorsal root ganglion, Gene expression, Chemotherapy, Ion channel, TRPM


Tarlov cyst syndrome is a rare, often asymptomatic disorder, characterised by isolated or multiple nerve-root cysts, usually occurring in the sacral spine, near the dorsal root ganglion, between the perineurium and endoneurium. The cysts may cause lower back pain, sacral radiculopathy, dyspareunia and urinary incontinence. There is little data in the literature on the relationship between Tarlov cysts and symptoms. Here, we report further details on the clinical impact of Tarlov cysts and investigate their pathogenesis and role as a cause of lumbosacral symptoms. We examined 157 patients with MRI evidence of symptomatic Tarlov cysts. Patients underwent complete neurological examination and were scored by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the Visual Analogue Scale. Complete lower limb electromyography was performed in 32 patients. Clinical picture was correlated with size and number of cysts detected by MRI. Family history was recorded for signs of genetic inheritance. Almost all patients suffered perineal or lower back pain; 34 complained of sphincter and 46 of sexual disorders. Hamilton scores were abnormal, and family history was positive in a few cases. The scanty literature on Tarlov cysts mainly regards therapy by a neurosurgical approach. Our results provide new data on clinical impact and possible pathogenetic mechanisms.

Concepts: Nervous system, Dorsal root ganglion, Genetics, Urinary incontinence, Symptoms, Neurology, Pain, Cyst


Friedreich ataxia is an autosomal recessive disorder that affects children and young adults. The mutation consists of a homozygous guanine-adenine-adenine trinucleotide repeat expansion that causes deficiency of frataxin, a small nuclear genome-encoded mitochondrial protein. Low frataxin levels lead to insufficient biosynthesis of iron-sulfur clusters that are required for mitochondrial electron transport and assembly of functional aconitase, and iron dysmetabolism of the entire cell. This review of the neuropathology of Friedreich ataxia stresses the critical role of hypoplasia and superimposed atrophy of dorsal root ganglia. Progressive destruction of dorsal root ganglia accounts for thinning of dorsal roots, degeneration of dorsal columns, transsynaptic atrophy of nerve cells in Clarke column and dorsal spinocerebellar fibers, atrophy of gracile and cuneate nuclei, and neuropathy of sensory nerves. The lesion of the dentate nucleus consists of progressive and selective atrophy of large glutamatergic neurons and grumose degeneration of corticonuclear synaptic terminals that contain γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Small GABA-ergic neurons and their projection fibers in the dentato-olivary tract survive. Atrophy of Betz cells and corticospinal tracts constitute a second intrinsic CNS lesion. In light of the selective vulnerability of organs and tissues to systemicfrataxin deficiency, many questions about the pathogenesis of Friedreich ataxia remain.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Dorsal root ganglion, Bacteria, Adenosine triphosphate, Action potential, Cerebellum, Zygosity