Topography and time course of changes in spinal neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity after spared nerve injury

A. B. Intondi, J. E. Zadina, X. Zhang, B. K. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We used a new computer-assisted method to precisely localize and efficiently quantify increases in neuropeptide Y immunoreactivity (NPY-ir) along the mediolateral axis of the L4 dorsal horn (DH) following transection of either the tibial and common peroneal nerves (thus sparing the sural branch, spared nerve injury (SNI)), the tibial nerve, or the common peroneal and sural nerves. Two weeks after SNI, NPY-ir increased within the tibial and peroneal innervation territories; however, NPY-ir in the central-lateral region (innervated by the spared sural nerve) was indistinguishable from that of sham. Conversely, transection of the sural and common peroneal nerves induced an increase in NPY-ir in the central-lateral region, while leaving the medial region (innervated by the tibial nerve) unaffected. All nerve injuries increased NPY-ir in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and nucleus gracilis (NG). By 24 weeks, both NPY-ir upregulation in the DH and hyper-responsivity to cold and noxious mechanical stimuli had resolved. Conversely, NPY-ir in DRG and NG, and hypersensitivity to non-noxious static mechanical stimuli, did not resolve within 24 weeks. Over this time course, the average cross-sectional area of NPY-immunoreactive DRG neurons increased by 151 μm2. We conclude that the upregulation of NPY after SNI is restricted to medial zones of the DH, and therefore cannot act directly upon synapses within the more lateral (sural) zones to control sural nerve hypersensitivity. Instead, we suggest that NPY in the medial DH tonically inhibits hypersensitivity by interrupting mechanisms of central sensitization and integration of sensory signals at the spinal and supraspinal levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)914-922
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 3 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by grants R01NS45954 and K02DA19656 to B.K.T. and the VA and ONR to J.E.Z.


  • allodynia
  • dorsal root ganglia
  • hyperalgesia
  • neuropathy
  • pain
  • rat


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