A terminal transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) method was utilized for detection of neuronal death in the subcortical relay nuclei of the trigeminosensory system following the infraorbital nerve transection in newborn rats. At 18-24 h after injury, numerous TUNEL-positive profiles were found within the ventroposteromedial thalamic nucleus (VPM) contralateral to the injury, whereas the VPM on the ipsilateral side and of the age-matched normal control contained only a few profiles per section. Electron microscopy revealed that the TUNEL-positive profiles were apoptotic neurons. The ventral part of the ipsilateral brainstem sensory trigeminal nuclear complex (the nucleus principalis, and the subnuclei oralis and interpolaris) exhibited statistically significant 65-70% increase in number of apoptotic neurons compared to the contralateral side. Taken together with our previous study [T. Sugimoto, C. Xiao, H. Ichikawa, Neonatal primary neuronal death induced by capsaicin and axotomy involves an apoptotic mechanism, Brain Res. 807 (1998) 147-154], the present results demonstrated a cascade of apoptosis in the primary, secondary and tertiary order sensory neurons along the neuroaxis.
Copyright 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.