Sex differences in gene regulation in the dorsal root ganglion after nerve injury

BMC Genomics. 2019 Feb 19;20(1):147. doi: 10.1186/s12864-019-5512-9.


Background: Pain is a subjective experience derived from complex interactions among biological, environmental, and psychosocial pathways. Sex differences in pain sensitivity and chronic pain prevalence are well established. However, the molecular basis underlying these sex dimorphisms are poorly understood particularly with regard to the role of the peripheral nervous system. Here we sought to identify shared and distinct gene networks functioning in the peripheral nervous systems that may contribute to sex differences of pain in rats after nerve injury.

Results: We performed RNA-seq on dorsal root ganglia following chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve in male and female rats. Analysis from paired naive and injured tissues showed that 1513 genes were differentially expressed between sexes. Genes which facilitated synaptic transmission in naïve and injured females did not show increased expression in males.

Conclusions: Appreciating sex-related gene expression differences and similarities in neuropathic pain models may help to improve the translational relevance to clinical populations and efficacy of clinical trials of this major health issue.

Keywords: Dorsal root ganglion; Gene expression; Nerve injury; Peripheral nervous system; RNA-seq; Sex differences.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / pathology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Male
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries / etiology*
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries / metabolism
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries / pathology
  • Rats
  • Sex Factors
  • Transcriptome