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Changes in the transcriptional fingerprint of satellite glial cells following peripheral nerve injury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Sara E Jager, Lone T Pallesen, Mette Richner, Peter Harley, Zoe Hore, Stephen McMahon, Franziska Denk, Christian B Vaegter

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1375-1395
Number of pages21
Issue number7
Early online date11 Feb 2020
E-pub ahead of print11 Feb 2020
Published1 Jul 2020

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© 2020 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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King's Authors


Satellite glial cells (SGCs) are homeostatic cells enveloping the somata of peripheral sensory and autonomic neurons. A wide variety of neuronal stressors trigger activation of SGCs, contributing to, for example, neuropathic pain through modulation of neuronal activity. However, compared to neurons and other glial cells of the nervous system, SGCs have received modest scientific attention and very little is known about SGC biology, possibly due to the experimental challenges associated with studying them in vivo and in vitro. Utilizing a recently developed method to obtain SGC RNA from dorsal root ganglia (DRG), we took a systematic approach to characterize the SGC transcriptional fingerprint by using next-generation sequencing and, for the first time, obtain an overview of the SGC injury response. Our RNA sequencing data are easily accessible in supporting information in Excel format. They reveal that SGCs are enriched in genes related to the immune system and cell-to-cell communication. Analysis of SGC transcriptional changes in a nerve injury-paradigm reveal a differential response at 3 days versus 14 days postinjury, suggesting dynamic modulation of SGC function over time. Significant downregulation of several genes linked to cholesterol synthesis was observed at both time points. In contrast, regulation of gene clusters linked to the immune system (MHC protein complex and leukocyte migration) was mainly observed after 14 days. Finally, we demonstrate that, after nerve injury, macrophages are in closer physical proximity to both small and large DRG neurons, and that previously reported injury-induced proliferation of SGCs may, in fact, be proliferating macrophages.

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