Signaling Mechanisms in the Neuronal Networks of Pain and Itch
Sammanfattning: Glutamate is the essential neurotransmitters in pain pathways. The discovery of the vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUT1-3) has been a fundamental step on the way to describe glutamate-dependent pain pathways. We used the Cre-lox system to construct conditional knockouts with deficient Vglut2 transmission in specific neuronal populations. We generated a Vglut2f/f;Ht-Pa-Cre line to selectively delete Vglut2 from the peripheral nervous system. These Vglut2 deficient mice showed decreased acute nociceptive responses and were less prone to develop an inflammatory state. They did not develop cold allodynia, or heat hyperalgesia and were less hypersensitive to mechanical stimuli in the PSNL chronic pain model. Further analyses of genes with altered expression after nerve injury, revealed candidates for future studies of chronic pain biomarkers. Interestingly, the Vglut2f/f;Ht-Pa-Cre mice developed an elevated itch behavior.To investigate more specific neuronal populations, we analyzed mice lacking Vglut2 in the Nav1.8 population, as inflammatory hyperalgesia, cold pain, and noxious mechanosensation have been shown to depend upon Nav1.8Cre positive sensory neurons. We showed that deleting Vglut2 in Nav1.8Cre positive neurons abolished thermal hyperalgesia in persistent inflammatory models and responses to noxious mechanical stimuli. We also demonstrated that substance P and VGLUT2-dependent glutamatergic transmission are co-required for the development of formalin-induced inflammatory pain and heat hyperalgesia in persistent inflammatory states.Deletion of Vglut2 in a subpopulation of neurons overlapping with the vanilloid receptor (TRPV1) primary afferents in the dorsal root ganglia resulted in a dramatic increase in itch behavior accompanied by a reduced responsiveness to thermal pain. Substance P signaling and VGLUT2-mediated glutamatergic transmission in TRPV1 neurons was co-required for the development of inflammatory pain states. Analyses of an itch phenotype uncovered the pathway within TRPV1 neurons, with VGLUT2 playing a regulatory role and GRPR neurons, which are to plausible converge the itch signal in the spinal cord.These studies confirmed the essential role of VGLUT2-dependent glutamatergic transmission in acute and persistent pain states and identified the roles of specific subpopulations of primary afferent neurons. Additionally, a novel pain and itch transmission pathway in TRPV1/VGLUT2 positive neurons was identified, which could be part of the gate control of pain.
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