Perineuronal satellite cells in mouse spinal ganglia express the gap junction protein connexin43 throughout life with decline in old age

Brain Res Bull. 2008 Mar 28;75(5):562-9. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2007.09.007. Epub 2007 Oct 17.


Satellite glial cells that envelope the bodies of sensory neurons in spinal ganglia are connected to each other by gap junctions and exhibit dye coupling. These junctions may endow perineuronal satellite cells with the coordination necessary for the efficient performance of functions such as buffering of K(+) in the perineuronal microenvironment, provision of metabolic support to ganglionic neurons, and neuroprotection. Our knowledge of gap junctions has increased considerably in recent years, but little information is available on the connexins that form these junctions in spinal ganglia. In the present study we set out to determine whether the perineuronal satellite cells of mouse spinal ganglia express the connexins that are mainly present in neuroglial cells (Cx32 and Cx43). In young (3 months) mice, PCR showed the presence of both Cx32 and Cx43 transcripts. By immunocytochemistry, we localized Cx32 to axon-ensheathing Schwann cells, but not to other parts of the ganglion. We found Cx43 positivity in the perineuronal satellite cells, which were identified by their immunoreactivity to S100 protein and to glutamine synthetase. PCR showed Cx43 transcripts also in the spinal ganglia of adult (8 months) and old (24 months) animals. Cx43 immunostaining was present in satellite cells surrounding all nerve cell bodies, irrespective of size. The mean number of Cx43-immunoreactive puncta was significantly lower in the perineuronal satellite cells of aged mice compared to young and adult animals. This latter finding is consistent with observations in non-nervous tissues, and the hypothesis that a prominent decrease in Cx43 is a marker of senescence.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Connexin 43 / genetics
  • Connexin 43 / metabolism*
  • Connexins / genetics
  • Connexins / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • S100 Proteins / metabolism
  • Satellite Cells, Perineuronal / metabolism*


  • Connexin 43
  • Connexins
  • S100 Proteins
  • connexin 32