The cytoplasmic protein gene product 9.5 (PGP 9.5) is considered a reliable marker for intraepidermal nerve fibers (IENFs). However, PGP 9.5 expression has never been compared with antibodies against the main components of the cytoskeleton. We compared the density of PGP 9.5-positive IENF at the leg with that obtained using a panel of antibodies specific for certain cytoskeletal components, namely, anti-unique beta-tubulin (TuJ1), anti-nonphosphorylated microtubule-associated protein-1B (MAP1B), anti-70 and 200 KDa neurofilament (NF), and antiphosphorylated neurofilament (SMI 312), in 15 healthy subjects and in 10 patients with painful neuropathy. We also performed colocalization studies and investigated the relationship between IENFs and Schwann cells. In both controls and neuropathies, the density of IENF labeled by PGP 9.5, TuJ1, and MAP1B did not differ, whereas that of NF and SMI 312 was significantly lower. Double-staining studies confirmed that antibodies against cytoskeletal markers can be used to reliably stain skin nerve fibers, suggesting that they might provide insight into specific axonal impairment in peripheral neuropathies.
Copyright 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.