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In sensory ganglia each nerve cell body is usually enveloped by a satellite glial cell (SGC) sheath, sharply separated from sheaths encircling adjacent neurons by connective tissue. However, following axon injury SGCs may form bridges connecting previously separate perineuronal sheaths. Each sheath consists of one or several layers of cells that overlap in a more or less complex fashion; sometimes SGCs form a perineuronal myelin sheath. SGCs are flattened mononucleate cells containing the usual cell organelles. Several ion channels, receptors and adhesion molecules have been identified in these cells. SGCs of the same sheath are usually linked by adherent and gap junctions, and are functionally coupled. Following axon injury, both the number of gap junctions and the coupling of SGCs increase markedly. The apposed plasma membranes of adjacent cells are separated by 15–20 nm gaps, which form a potential pathway, usually long and tortuous, between connective tissue and neuronal surface. The boundary between neuron and SGC sheath is usually complicated, mainly by many projections arising from the neuron. The outer surface of the SGC sheath is covered by a basal lamina. The number of SGCs enveloping a nerve cell body is proportional to the cell body volume; the volume of the SGC sheath is proportional to the volume and surface area of the nerve cell body. In old animals, both the number of SGCs and the mean volume of the SGC sheaths are significantly lower than in young adults. Furthermore, extensive portions of the neuronal surface are not covered by SGCs, exposing neurons of aged animals to damage by harmful substances.
Dorsal root ganglia (DRG) respond to peripheral nerve injury by up-regulating nitric oxide (NO) production by neurons and glia in addition to local fibroblasts, endothelium and macrophages. We hypothesise that NO produced from these cells has specific roles. We have shown that when neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) is blocked in axotomised DRG, neurons undergo degenerative changes (Thippeswamy et al., 2001, 2007a). Further, we demonstrated that increased neuronal NO production, in response to axotomy/growth factor-deprivation in vitro, signals glial cells to produce trophic factors to support neuronal survival (Thippeswamy et al., 2005a). Recently, we found that treating satellite glia–neuron co-cultures with nNOS inhibitor, 7-nitroindazole (7NI), decreases the number of nestin+ cells that show neuron-like morphology. Cultured/axotomised DRG also upregulate inducible NOS (iNOS) in non-neuronal cells. Therefore, it is plausible that degenerative changes following nNOS inhibition are also due to iNOS-mediated excessive NO production by non-neuronal cells, which indeed is cytotoxic. NG-nitro-l-arginine methylester (L-NAME), the pan NOS inhibitor did not significantly change nNOS+ neuron number in axotomised DRG compared to 7NI suggesting that iNOS-mediated NO contributes to the degenerative process. In this paper, these findings from our and others' past work on NO-mediated neuron–glia signalling in axotomised DRG are discussed.
When pretreated with pertussis toxin (PTX), the neurites of adult rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells in mixed cell cultures retract over a period of 2 h following the initial stimulus of removal from the cell culture incubator for brief periods of observation. The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether this PTX-dependent response was specific to any one of the three subpopulations of DRG neurons. However, no neurite retraction response was observed in neuron-enriched populations of cells, or in cultures enriched in isolectin B4 (IB4)-positive neurons or in IB4-negative neurons. But, the addition of non-neuronal cells, and/or medium conditioned by non-neuronal cells, was sufficient to restore the PTX-dependent neurite retraction response, but only in large diameter IB4-negative neurons. In conclusion, we have identified a regulatory response, mediated by Gi/o-proteins, which prevents retraction of neurites in large diameter IB4-negative cells of adult rat DRG. The non-neuronal cells of adult rat DRG constitutively release factor/s that can stimulate neurite retraction of a subset of isolated DRG neurons, but this property of non-neuronal cells is only observed when the Gi/o-proteins of large diameter IB4-negative cells are inhibited.
The role of adenosine-5′-triphosphate (ATP) and of the ligand-gated P2X3 receptor in neuronal dorsal root ganglia (DRG) pain transmission is relatively well established. Much less is known about the purinergic system in trigeminal ganglia (TG), which are involved in certain types of untreatable neuropathic and inflammatory pain, as well as in migraine. Emerging data suggest that purinergic metabotropic P2Y receptors on both neurons and satellite glial cells (SGCs) may also participate in both physiological and pathological pain development. Here, we provide an updated literature review on the role of purinergic signaling in sensory ganglia, with special emphasis on P2Y receptors on SGCs. We also provide new original data showing a time-dependent downregulation of P2Y2 and P2Y4 receptor expression and function in purified SGCs cultures from TG, in comparison with primary mixed neuron–SGCs cultures. These data highlight the importance of the neuron–glia cross-talk in determining the SGCs phenotype. Finally, we show that, in mixed TG cultures, both adenine and guanosine induce intracellular calcium transients in neurons but not in SGCs, suggesting that also these purinergic-related molecules can participate in pain signaling. These findings may have relevant implications for the development of new therapeutic strategies for chronic pain treatment.
Astrocytes communicate with neurons, endothelial and other glial cells through transmission of intercellular calcium signals. Satellite glial cells (SGCs) in sensory ganglia share several properties with astrocytes, but whether this type of communication occurs between SGCs and sensory neurons has not been explored. In the present work we used cultured neurons and SGCs from mouse trigeminal ganglia to address this question. Focal electrical or mechanical stimulation of single neurons in trigeminal ganglion cultures increased intracellular calcium concentration in these cells and triggered calcium elevations in adjacent glial cells. Similar to neurons, SGCs responded to mechanical stimulation with increase in cytosolic calcium that spread to the adjacent neuron and neighboring glial cells. Calcium signaling from SGCs to neurons and among SGCs was diminished in the presence of the broad-spectrum P2 receptor antagonist suramin (50 μM) or in the presence of the gap junction blocker carbenoxolone (100 μM), whereas signaling from neurons to SGCs was reduced by suramin, but not by carbenoxolone. Following induction of submandibular inflammation by Complete Freund's Adjuvant injection, the amplitude of signaling among SGCs and from SGCs to neuron was increased, whereas the amplitude from neuron to SGCs was reduced. These results indicate for the first time the presence of bidirectional calcium signaling between neurons and SGCs in sensory ganglia cultures, which is mediated by the activation of purinergic P2 receptors, and to some extent by gap junctions. Furthermore, the results indicate that not only sensory neurons, but also SGCs release ATP. This form of intercellular calcium signaling likely plays key roles in the modulation of neuronal activity within sensory ganglia in normal and pathological states.
It has been known for some time that the somata of neurons in sensory ganglia respond to electrical or chemical stimulation and release transmitters in a Ca2+-dependent manner. The function of the somatic release has not been well delineated. A unique characteristic of the ganglia is that each neuronal soma is tightly enwrapped by satellite glial cells (SGCs). The somatic membrane of a sensory neuron rarely makes synaptic contact with another neuron. As a result, the influence of somatic release on the activity of adjacent neurons is likely to be indirect and/or slow. Recent studies of neuron–SGC interactions have demonstrated that ATP released from the somata of dorsal root ganglion neurons activates SGCs. They in turn exert complex excitatory and inhibitory modulation of neuronal activity. Thus, SGCs are actively involved in the processing of afferent information. In this review, we summarize our understanding of bidirectional communication between neuronal somata and SGCs in sensory ganglia and its possible role in afferent signaling under normal and injurious conditions. The participation of purinergic receptors is emphasized because of their dominant roles in the communication.
Satellite glial cells (SGCs) undergo phenotypic changes and divide the following injury into a peripheral nerve. Nerve injury, also elicits an immune response and several antigen-presenting cells are found in close proximity to SGCs. Silencing SCG-specific molecules involved in intercellular transport (Connexin 43) or glutamate recycling (glutamine synthase) can dramatically alter nociceptive responses of normal and nerve-injured rats. Transducing SGCs with glutamic acid decarboxylase can produce analgesia in models of trigeminal pain. Taken together these data suggest that SGCs may play a role in the genesis or maintenance of pain and open a range of new possibilities for curing neuropathic pain.
There is a growing body of evidence that cytokines contribute to both induction and maintenance of neuropathic pain derived from changes in dorsal root ganglia (DRG), including the activity of the primary sensory neurons and their satellite glial cells (SGC). We used immunofluorescence and in situ hybridization methods to provide evidence that chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve induces synthesis of interleukin-6 (IL-6) in SGC, elevation of IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) and activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) signalling. Unilateral CCI of the rat sciatic nerve induced mechanoallodynia and thermal hyperalgesia in ipsilateral hind paws, but contralateral paws exhibited only temporal changes of sensitivity. We demonstrated that IL-6 mRNA and protein, which were expressed at very low levels in naïve DRG, were bilaterally increased not only in L4-L5 DRG neurons but also in SGC activated by unilateral CCI. Besides IL-6, substantial increase of IL-6R and pSTAT3 expression occurred in SGC following CCI, however, IL-6R associated protein, gp130 levels did not change. The results may suggest that unilateral CCI of the sciatic nerve induces bilateral activation of SGC in L4-L5 DRG to transduce IL-6 signalling during neuroinflammation.
Intercellular coupling by gap junctions is one of the main features of glial cells, but very little is known about this aspect of satellite glial cells (SGCs) in sympathetic ganglia. We used the dye coupling method to address this question in both a prevertebral ganglion (superior mesenteric) and a paravertebral ganglion (superior cervical) of mice. We found that in control ganglia, the incidence of dye coupling among SGCs that form the envelope around a given neuron was 10–20%, and coupling between SGCs around different envelopes was rare (1.5–3%). The dye injections also provided novel information on the structure of SGCs. Following peripheral inflammation, both types of coupling were increased, but most striking was the augmentation of coupling between SGCs forming envelopes around different neurons, which rose by 8–14.6-fold. This effect appeared to be non-systemic, and was blocked by the gap junction blocker carbenoxolone. These changes in SGCs may affect signal transmission and processing in sympathetic ganglia.