Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have found physical evidence of a previously unknown communication between nerves on opposite sides of the body. In the May 2004 issue of Annals of Neurology, the scientists describe how cutting a major nerve in one paw of a group of rats resulted in a significant decrease in skin nerve endings in the corresponding area of the opposite limb. The study, released today on the journal's website, may have major implications for the care of patients with nerve damage and also calls into question the common practice of using tissues on the opposite side of the body as controls in scientific experiments.
"Patients with pain syndromes related to nerve damage sometimes report symptoms on the side opposite their injury as well, but those reports are usually discounted because there has been no biological framework for the phenomenon," says Anne Louise Oaklander, MD, PhD, director of the MGH Nerve Injury Unit, the report's principal author. "Our evidence means that these reports can no longer be ignored and gives us a new direction for research."
It has been known for more than 100 years that, when a nerve is cut, skin nerve endings in the area supplied by that nerve quickly disappear. This is because nerve cell bodies are actually located near the spinal cord, and nerve fibers called axons extend into the limbs. When axons are severed, downstream nerve endings are cut off from the cell body and die.
Reports of opposite-side sensory effects of injury date back to the American Civil War. However, no connections are known to exist between nerve cells supplying corresponding areas on the left and right sides. In previous research Oaklander and her colleagues examined nerve endings in patients with post-herpetic neuralgia persistent pain in an area of skin previously affected by shingles, also called herpes zoster. Along with an almost total loss of nerve endings at the site of the shinPage: 1 2 Related medicine news :1
Contact: Sue McGreevey
Massachusetts General Hospital
. Study of energy and health in Africa focuses spotlight on charcoal and forest management2
. Study shows promise in identifying kidney failure3
. Study shows patch therapy may be as effective as oral medications4
. Study shows soy is well accepted in school lunches5
. Study finds that coordinating care of chronically ill patients does not increase liability6
. Study provides new estimates of the causes of child mortality worldwide7
. Study finds factors linked to substance use disorder relapse among health care professionals8
. Study finds majority of women willing to accept cervical cancer vaccine for self and children9
. Study shows use of budesonide reduced the risk of asthma related events by 40% in children10
. Study shows risk of cardiac death after radiation for breast cancer has dramatically decreased11
. Study shows acrylamide in baked and fried food does not increase risk of breast cancer in women