Cytokine responses during chronic denervation

J Neuroinflammation. 2005 Nov 18;2:26. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-2-26.


Background: The aim of the present study was to examine inflammatory responses during Wallerian degeneration in rat peripheral nerve when the regrowth of axons was prevented by suturing.

Methods: Transected rat sciatic nerve was sutured and ligated to prevent reinnervation. The samples were collected from the left sciatic nerve distally and proximally from the point of transection. The endoneurium was separated from the surrounding epi- and perineurium to examine the expression of cytokines in both of these compartments. Macrophage invasion into endoneurium was investigated and Schwann cell proliferation was followed as well as the expression of cytokines IL-1beta, IL-10, IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha mRNA. The samples were collected from 1 day up to 5 weeks after the primary operation.

Results: At days 1 to 3 after injury in the epi-/perineurium of the proximal and distal stump, a marked expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-1beta and of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 was observed. Concurrently, numerous macrophages started to gather into the epineurium of both proximal and distal stumps. At day 7 the number of macrophages decreased in the perineurium and increased markedly in the endoneurium of both stumps. At this time point marked expression of TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma mRNA was observed in the endo- and epi-/perineurium of the proximal stump. At day 14 a marked increase in the expression of IL-1beta could be noted in the proximal stump epi-/perineurium and in the distal stump endoneurium. At that time point many macrophages were observed in the longitudinally sectioned epineurium of the proximal 2 area as well as in the cross-section slides from the distal stump. At day 35 TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and IL-10 mRNA appeared abundantly in the proximal epi-/perineurium together with macrophages.

Conclusion: The present studies show that even during chronic denervation there is a cyclic expression pattern for the studied cytokines. Contrary to the previous findings on reinnervating nerves the studied cytokines show increased expression up to 35 days. The high expressions of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines in the proximal epi-/perineurial area at day 35 may be involved in the formation of fibrosis due to irreversible nerve injury and thus may have relevance to the formation of traumatic neuroma.