Regulation of expression of galanin and galanin receptors in dorsal root ganglia and spinal cord after axotomy and inflammation

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1998 Dec 21:863:402-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1998.tb10710.x.


Galanin can normally be detected only in a few dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons, but it is dramatically upregulated after peripheral nerve injury in both rat and monkey. Galanin is stored in large dense core vesicles, which after axotomy are often found close to the membrane of afferent nerve endings in the dorsal horn. In the monkey there is an increase in galanin in many nerve terminals in the superficial dorsal horn after axotomy, but such an increase is more difficult to detect in the rat. Galanin is also present in local dorsal horn neurons, where it is upregulated by peripheral inflammation. Both galanin-R1 and galanin-R2 receptor mRNAs are expressed in rat DRGs, mainly in, respectively, large and small DRG neurons. Galanin-R1 receptor mRNA is downregulated in DRG neurons after axotomy, and a small decrease in galanin-R2 receptor mRNA levels can also be seen. After peripheral tissue inflammation galanin-R1 receptor mRNA levels decrease and galanin-R2 receptor mRNA levels increase. The present results show that galanin and galanin receptors are present in sensory and local dorsal horn neurons and are regulated by nerve injury and inflammation. Galanin may therefore be involved in processing of pain information, primarily exerting analgesic effects. Whereas local dorsal horn neurons represent a defense system against inflammatory pain, we have proposed that a second defense system, against neuropathic pain, is intrinsic to DRG neurons.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axotomy
  • Galanin / biosynthesis*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiopathology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Haplorhini
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Galanin
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / biosynthesis*
  • Spinal Cord / physiopathology*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Galanin
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide
  • Galanin