Time course of ongoing activity during neuritis and following axonal transport disruption

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Local nerve inflammation (neuritis) leads to ongoing activity and axonal mechanical sensitivity (AMS) along intact nociceptor axons and disrupts axonal transport. This phenomenon forms the most feasible cause of radiating pain, such as sciatica. We have previously shown that axonal transport disruption without inflammation or degeneration also leads to AMS but does not cause ongoing activity at the time point when AMS occurs, despite causing cutaneous hypersensitivity. However, there have been no systematic studies of ongoing activity during neuritis or noninflammatory axonal transport disruption. In this study, we present the time course of ongoing activity from primary sensory neurons following neuritis and vinblastine-induced axonal transport disruption. Whereas 24% of C/slow Aδ-fiber neurons had ongoing activity during neuritis, few (<10%) A- and C-fiber neurons showed ongoing activity 1-15 days following vinblastine treatment. In contrast, AMS increased transiently at the vinblastine treatment site, peaking on days 4-5 (28% of C/slow Aδ-fiber neurons) and resolved by day 15. Conduction velocities were slowed in all groups. In summary, the disruption of axonal transport without inflammation does not lead to ongoing activity in sensory neurons, including nociceptors, but does cause a rapid and transient development of AMS. Because it is proposed that AMS underlies mechanically induced radiating pain, and a transient disruption of axonal transport (as previously reported) leads to transient AMS, it follows that processes that disrupt axonal transport, such as neuritis, must persist to maintain AMS and the associated symptoms. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Many patients with radiating pain lack signs of nerve injury on clinical examination but may have neuritis, which disrupts axonal transport. We have shown that axonal transport disruption does not induce ongoing activity in primary sensory neurons but does cause transient axonal mechanical sensitivity. The present data complete a profile of key axonal sensitivities following axonal transport disruption. Collectively, this profile supports that an active peripheral process is necessary for maintained axonal sensitiviti.




Satkeviciute, I., Goodwin, G., Bove, G. M., & Dilley, A. (2018). Time course of ongoing activity during neuritis and following axonal transport disruption. Journal of Neurophysiology, 119(5), 1993–2000. https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00882.2017

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