Gap functional communication between the satellite cells of rat dorsal root ganglia

Eisuke Sakuma, Hong Jian Wang, Yuji Asai, Daisuke Tamaki, Kinji Amano, Yoshio Mabuchi, Damon C. Herbert, Tsuyoshi Soji

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11 Scopus citations


Many studies have described the ultrastructure of the dorsal root ganglia in various embryonic and adult animals, but in spite of the efforts of many investigators the functional role of the satellite cells in this tissue is not clearly understood. In this study, we discuss the function of this cell type based on the concept of cell-to-cell interaction through gap junctions. Five male 60 day-old Wistar strain rats were used. All animals were anesthetized with pentobarbital and perfused with glutaraldehyde fixative, then the dorsal root ganglia in levels L4, L5 and L6 were taken from each rat. After postosmication, the specimens were prepared for observation by transmission electron microscopy. All nerve cells were completely surrounded by satellite cell cytoplasmic expansions. The boundaries between adjacent nerve cells and satellite cells were complicated due to the presence of perikaryal projections of nerve cells. Gap junctions which showed the typical trilamellar structure of plasma membranes were found mainly between satellite cell processes belonging to the same nerve cell. On the other hand, some gap junctions were found between the satellite cell projections belonging to different nerve cells. The size of the gap junctions ranged from 300 to 400 nm. No gap junctions were associated with the plasma membrane of any nerve cell. In conclusion, only satellite cells can share free transcellular exchange of cytoplasmic molecules such as ions, amino acids, sugars and several second messengers including cAMP and inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate by way of gap junctions in dorsal root ganglia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-302
Number of pages6
JournalKaibogaku zasshi. Journal of anatomy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Dorsal root ganglion
  • Gap junction
  • Rat
  • Satellite cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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