Neuropathic pain, a highly debilitating chronic pain following nerve damage, is a reflection of the aberrant functioning of a pathologically altered nervous system. Previous studies have implicated activated microglia in the spinal dorsal horn (SDH) as key cellular intermediaries in neuropathic pain. Microgliosis is among the dramatic cellular alterations that occur in the SDH in models of neuropathic pain established by peripheral nerve injury (PNI), but detailed characterization of SDH microgliosis has yet to be realized. In the present study, we performed a short-pulse labeling of proliferating cells with ethynyldeoxyuridine (EdU), a marker of the cell cycle S-phase, and found that EdU+ microglia in the SDH were rarely observed 32h after PNI, but rapidly increased to the peak level at 40h post-PNI. Numerous EdU+ microglia persisted for the next 20h (60h post-PNI) and decreased to the baseline on day 7. These results demonstrate a narrow time window for rapidly inducing a proliferation burst of SDH microglia after PNI, and these temporally restricted kinetics of microglial proliferation may help identify the molecule that causes microglial activation in the SDH, which is crucial for understanding and managing neuropathic pain.
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