In this study, we investigated postnatal changes in Rexed's laminae and distribution of nociceptive afferents in the dorsal horn of the rat lumbar spinal cord at postnatal days 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 60. Transverse sections of the L4-L5 segments were processed for triple labeling with isolectin B4 (IB4)-binding as a marker of nonpeptidergic C-fibers, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) immunoreactivity to label peptidergic nociceptive afferents, and a fluorescent Nissl stain to visualize cells and lamination at different stages of postnatal development. The Nissl staining revealed that the thickness of lamina I (LI) and outer lamina II remained mostly unchanged from birth until adulthood. CGRP afferents terminated mostly in LI and the outer two-thirds of lamina II, whereas the termination area of fibers binding IB4 was centered on the middle one-third of lamina II at all ages studied. In absolute values, the overall width of the bands of intense CGRP and IB4 labeling increased with age but decreased as a percentage of the overall thickness of the dorsal horn with maturation. The overlap of CGRP termination area with that of IB4 afferents increased with age. The consequences of these findings are twofold. First, the size of the different laminae does not grow evenly across the dorsal horn. Second, CGRP and IB4 labeling cannot be considered per se to be reliable markers of lamination during development. These findings have implications for comparing data obtained in immature and mature tissues with respect to localization of structures in the dorsal horn.
Pubmed ID: 18383051 RIS Download
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