The structure of sensory afferent compartments in health and disease

J Anat. 2022 Nov;241(5):1186-1210. doi: 10.1111/joa.13544. Epub 2021 Sep 15.


Primary sensory neurons are a heterogeneous population of cells able to respond to both innocuous and noxious stimuli. Like most neurons they are highly compartmentalised, allowing them to detect, convey and transfer sensory information. These compartments include specialised sensory endings in the skin, the nodes of Ranvier in myelinated axons, the cell soma and their central terminals in the spinal cord. In this review, we will highlight the importance of these compartments to primary afferent function, describe how these structures are compromised following nerve damage and how this relates to neuropathic pain.

Keywords: DRG neuron soma; DRG neurons; central terminals; cutaneous sensory endings; neuronal compartments; neuropathic pain; node of Ranvier; pain; sensory afferents.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Axons
  • Ganglia, Spinal*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent
  • Spinal Cord*