Two voltage gated sodium channel α-subunits, Nav1.7 and Nav1.8, are expressed at high levels in nociceptor terminals and have been implicated in the development of inflammatory pain. Mis-expression of voltage-gated sodium channels by damaged sensory neurons has also been implicated in the development of neuropathic pain, but the role of Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 is uncertain. Here we show that deleting Nav1.7 has no effect on the development of neuropathic pain. Double knockouts of both Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 also develop normal levels of neuropathic pain, despite a lack of inflammatory pain symptoms and altered mechanical and thermal acute pain thresholds. These studies demonstrate that, in contrast to the highly significant role for Nav1.7 in determining inflammatory pain thresholds, the development of neuropathic pain does not require the presence of either Nav1.7 or Nav1.8 alone or in combination.
Changes in sodium channel activity and neuronal hyperexcitability contribute to neuropathic pain, a major clinical problem. There is strong evidence that the re-expression of the embryonic voltage-gated sodium channel subunit Nav1.3 underlies neuronal hyperexcitability and neuropathic pain.
Here we show that acute and inflammatory pain behaviour is unchanged in global Nav1.3 mutant mice. Surprisingly, neuropathic pain also developed normally in the Nav1.3 mutant mouse. To rule out any genetic compensation mechanisms that may have masked the phenotype, we investigated neuropathic pain in two conditional Nav1.3 mutant mouse lines. We used Nav1.8-Cre mice to delete Nav1.3 in nociceptors at E14 and NFH-Cre mice to delete Nav1.3 throughout the nervous system postnatally. Again normal levels of neuropathic pain developed after nerve injury in both lines. Furthermore, ectopic discharges from damaged nerves were unaffected by the absence of Nav1.3 in global knock-out mice. Our data demonstrate that Nav1.3 is neither necessary nor sufficient for the development of nerve-injury related pain.
Several voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs) from nociceptive nerve fibers have been identified as important effectors in pain signaling. The objective of this study is to investigate the electroacupuncture (EA) analgesia mechanism by changing the expression of Navs in mice dorsal root ganglia (DRG). We injected carrageenan and complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) into the mice plantar surface of the hind paw to induce inflammation and examined the antinociception effect of EA at the Zusanli (ST36) acupoint at 2 Hz low frequency. Mechanical hyperalgesia was evaluated by using electronic von Frey filaments, and thermal hyperalgesia was assessed using Hargreaves' test. Furthermore, we observed the expression and quality of Navs in DRG neurons. Our results showed that EA reduced mechanical and thermal pain in inflammatory animal model. The expression of Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 was increased after 4 days of carrageenan- and CFA-elicited inflammatory pain and further attenuated by 2 Hz EA stimulation. The attenuation cannot be observed in Nav1.9 sodium channels. We demonstrated that EA at Zusanli (ST36) acupoint at 2 Hz low-frequency stimulation attenuated inflammatory pain accompanied by decreasing the expression of Nav1.7 and 1.8, rather than Nav1.9, sodium channels in peripheral DRG neurons.
Peripheral neuropathic pain is a disabling condition resulting from nerve injury. It is characterized by the dysregulation of voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs) expressed in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) sensory neurons. The mechanisms underlying the altered expression of Navs remain unknown. This study investigated the role of the E3 ubiquitin ligase NEDD4-2, which is known to ubiquitylate Navs, in the pathogenesis of neuropathic pain in mice. The spared nerve injury (SNI) model of traumatic nerve injury–induced neuropathic pain was used, and an Nav1.7-specific inhibitor, ProTxII, allowed the isolation of Nav1.7-mediated currents. SNI decreased NEDD4-2 expression in DRG cells and increased the amplitude of Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 currents. The redistribution of Nav1.7 channels toward peripheral axons was also observed. Similar changes were observed in the nociceptive DRG neurons of Nedd4L knockout mice (SNS-Nedd4L–/–). SNS-Nedd4L–/– mice exhibited thermal hypersensitivity and an enhanced second pain phase after formalin injection. Restoration of NEDD4-2 expression in DRG neurons using recombinant adenoassociated virus (rAAV2/6) not only reduced Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 current amplitudes, but also alleviated SNI-induced mechanical allodynia. These findings demonstrate that NEDD4-2 is a potent posttranslational regulator of Navs and that downregulation of NEDD4-2 leads to the hyperexcitability of DRG neurons and contributes to the genesis of pathological pain.
Human acute and inflammatory pain requires the expression of voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.7 but its significance for neuropathic pain is unknown. Here we show that Nav1.7 expression in different sets of mouse sensory and sympathetic neurons underlies distinct types of pain sensation. Ablating Nav1.7 gene (SCN9A) expression in all sensory neurons using Advillin-Cre abolishes mechanical pain, inflammatory pain and reflex withdrawal responses to heat. In contrast, heat-evoked pain is retained when SCN9A is deleted only in Nav1.8-positive nociceptors. Surprisingly, responses to the hotplate test, as well as neuropathic pain, are unaffected when SCN9A is deleted in all sensory neurons. However, deleting SCN9A in both sensory and sympathetic neurons abolishes these pain sensations and recapitulates the pain-free phenotype seen in humans with SCN9A loss-of-function mutations. These observations demonstrate an important role for Nav1.7 in sympathetic neurons in neuropathic pain, and provide possible insights into the mechanisms that underlie gain-of-function Nav1.7-dependent pain conditions.
Sodium channel Nav1.7 is essential for acute human pain but its role in chronic neuropathic pain is unclear. Minett and colleagues show that Nav1.7 expression specifically in sympathetic neurons, rather than sensory neurons, is required for the development of chronic neuropathic pain after injury.
The voltage gated sodium channel Nav 1.8 has a highly restricted expression pattern to predominantly nociceptive peripheral sensory neurones. Behaviourally Nav 1.8-null mice show an increased acute pain threshold to noxious mechanical pressure and also deficits in inflammatory and visceral, but not neuropathic pain. Here we have made in vivo electrophysiology recordings of dorsal horn neurones in intact anaesthetised Nav 1.8-null mice, in response to a wide range of stimuli to further the understanding of the functional roles of Nav 1.8 in pain transmission from the periphery to the spinal cord.
Nav 1.8-null mice showed marked deficits in the coding by dorsal horn neurones to mechanical, but not thermal, -evoked responses over the non-noxious and noxious range compared to littermate controls. Additionally, responses evoked to other stimulus modalities were also significantly reduced in Nav 1.8-null mice where the reduction observed to pinch > brush. The occurrence of ongoing spontaneous neuronal activity was significantly less in mice lacking Nav 1.8 compared to control. No difference was observed between groups in the evoked activity to electrical activity of the peripheral receptive field.
This study demonstrates that deletion of the sodium channel Nav 1.8 results in stimulus-dependent deficits in the dorsal horn neuronal coding to mechanical, but not thermal stimuli applied to the neuronal peripheral receptive field. This implies that Nav 1.8 is either responsible for, or associated with proteins involved in mechanosensation.
The tetrodotoxin-resistant voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.8 (SNS1/PN3) is expressed by nociceptors and may play a role in pain states.
Using specific antibodies for immunohistochemistry, we studied Nav1.8 – immunoreactivity in human dental pulp in relation to the neuronal marker neurofilament. Human tooth pulp was extracted from teeth harvested from a total of twenty-two patients (fourteen without dental pain, eight patients with dental pain).
Fibres immunoreactive for Nav1.8, were significantly increased on image analysis in the painful group: median (range) Nav1.8 to Neurofilament % area ratio, non-painful 0.059 (0.006–0.24), painful 0.265 (0.13–0.5), P = 0.0019.
Nav1.8 sodium channels may thus represent a therapeutic target in trigeminal nerve pain states.
Understanding the role of voltage-gated sodium channels in nociception may provide important insights into pain mechanisms. Voltage-gated sodium channels are critically important for electrogenesis and nerve impulse conduction, and a target for important clinically relevant analgesics such as lidocaine. Furthermore, within the last decade studies have shown that certain sodium channel isoforms are predominantly expressed in peripheral sensory neurons associated with pain sensation, and that the expression and functional properties of voltage-gated sodium channels in peripheral sensory neurons can be dynamically regulated following axonal injury or peripheral inflammation. These data suggest that specific voltage-gated sodium channels may play crucial roles in nociception. Experiments with transgenic mice lines have clearly implicated Nav1.7, Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 in inflammatory, and possibly neuropathic, pain. However the most convincing and perhaps most exciting results regarding the role of voltage-gated sodium channels has come out recently from studies on human inherited disorders of nociception. Point mutations in Nav1.7 have been identified in patients with two distinct autosomal dominant severe chronic pain syndromes. Electrophysiological experiments indicate that these pain-associated mutations cause small yet significant changes in the gating properties of voltage-gated sodium channels that are likely to contribute substantially to the development of chronic pain. Equally exciting, a recent study has indicated that recessive mutations in Nav1.7 that eliminate functional current can result in an apparent complete, and possibly specific, indifference to pain in humans, suggesting that isoform specific blockers could be very effective in treating pain. In this review we will examine what is known about the roles of voltage-gated sodium channels in nociception.
The mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain induction are very complex but might involve abnormal spontaneous activity in the sensory dorsal root ganglion (DRG). Voltage-gated sodium channels in the DRG are essential for the genesis of abnormal spontaneous neuronal activity. In the present study, we examined the changes in expression of the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.1 in the DRG after peripheral nerve injury. Western blot analysis showed that the level of Nav1.1 protein in the ipsilateral L5 DRG was significantly increased on days 3 and 7 after fifth lumbar spinal nerve ligation. Immunohistochemical study further confirmed a marked increase in the percentage of Nav1.1-positive cells in the ipsilateral DRG on day 3 after fifth lumbar spinal nerve ligation. Similarly, on day 7 after sciatic nerve axotomy, the amount of Nav1.1 protein and the percentage of Nav1.1-positive cells in the ipsilateral L5 DRG were also significantly increased. Our results suggest that an early increase in DRG Nav1.1 expression after peripheral nerve injury might be involved in the induction of neuropathic pain.
Nav1.1; sodium channel; neuropathic pain; dorsal root ganglion; rat
Peripheral nerve injury is known to up-regulate the expression of rapidly-repriming Nav1.3 sodium channel within first-order dorsal root ganglion neurons and second-order dorsal horn nociceptive neurons, but it is not known if pain-processing neurons higher along the neuraxis also undergo changes in sodium channel expression. In this study, we hypothesized that after peripheral nerve injury, third-order neurons in the ventral posterolateral (VPL) nucleus of the thalamus undergo changes in expression of sodium channels. To test this hypothesis, adult male Sprague-Dawley rats underwent chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve. Ten days after CCI, when allodynia and hyperalgesia were evident, in situ hybridization and immunocytochemical analysis revealed up-regulation of Nav1.3 mRNA, but no changes in expression of Nav1.1, Nav1.2, or Nav1.6 in VPL neurons, and unit recordings demonstrated increased background firing, which persisted after spinal cord transection, and evoked hyperresponsiveness to peripheral stimuli. These results demonstrate that injury to the peripheral nervous system induces alterations in sodium channel expression within higher-order VPL neurons, and suggest that misexpression of the Nav1.3 sodium channel increases the excitability of VPL neurons injury, contributing to neuropathic pain.
Mechanical hyperalgesia is a common and potentially disabling complication of many inflammatory and neuropathic conditions. Activation of the enzyme PKCε in primary afferent nociceptors is a major mechanism that underlies mechanical hyperalgesia, but the PKCε substrates involved downstream are not known. Here, we report that in a proteomic screen we identified the NaV1.8 sodium channel, which is selectively expressed in nociceptors, as a PKCε substrate. PKCε-mediated phosphorylation increased NaV1.8 currents, lowered the threshold voltage for activation, and produced a depolarizing shift in inactivation in wild-type — but not in PKCε-null — sensory neurons. PKCε phosphorylated NaV1.8 at S1452, and alanine substitution at this site blocked PKCε modulation of channel properties. Moreover, a specific PKCε activator peptide, ψεRACK, produced mechanical hyperalgesia in wild-type mice but not in Scn10a–/– mice, which lack NaV1.8 channels. These studies demonstrate that NaV1.8 is an important, direct substrate of PKCε that mediates PKCε-dependent mechanical hyperalgesia.
The polypeptide hormone calcitonin is clinically well known for its ability to relieve neuropathic pain such as spinal canal stenosis, diabetic neuropathy and complex regional pain syndrome. Mechanisms for its analgesic effect, however, remain unclear. Here we investigated the mechanism of anti-hyperalgesic action of calcitonin in a neuropathic pain model in rats.
Subcutaneous injection of elcatonin, a synthetic derivative of eel calcitonin, relieved hyperalgesia induced by chronic constriction injury (CCI). Real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed that the CCI provoked the upregulation of tetrodotoxin (TTX)-sensitive Nav.1.3 mRNA and downregulation of TTX-resistant Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 mRNA on the ipsilateral dorsal root ganglion (DRG), which would consequently increase the excitability of peripheral nerves. These changes were reversed by elcatonin. In addition, the gene expression of the calcitonin receptor and binding site of 125I-calcitonin was increased at the constricted peripheral nerve tissue but not at the DRG. The anti-hyperalgesic effect and normalization of sodium channel mRNA by elcatonin was parallel to the change of the calcitonin receptor expression. Elcatonin, however, did not affect the sensitivity of nociception or gene expression of sodium channel, while it suppressed calcitonin receptor mRNA under normal conditions.
These results suggest that the anti-hyperalgesic action of calcitonin on CCI rats could be attributable to the normalization of the sodium channel expression, which might be exerted by an unknown signal produced at the peripheral nerve tissue but not by DRG neurons through the activation of the calcitonin receptor. Calcitonin signals were silent in the normal condition and nerve injury may be one of triggers for conversion of a silent to an active signal.
Elcatonin; Calcitonin; Peripheral nerve excitability; Neuropathic pain; CCI model; Na+ channel; Analgesia
Rapid and effective treatment of cancer-induced bone pain remains a clinical challenge and patients with bone metastasis are more likely to experience severe pain. The voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.8 plays a critical role in many aspects of nociceptor function. Therefore, we characterized a rat model of cancer pain and investigated the potential role of Nav1.8.
Adult female Wistar rats were used for the study. Cancer pain was induced by inoculation of Walker 256 breast carcinosarcoma cells into the tibia. After surgery, mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia and ambulation scores were evaluated to identify pain-related behavior. We used real-time RT-PCR to determine Nav1.8 mRNA expression in bilateral L4/L5 dorsal root ganglia (DRG) at 16-19 days after surgery. Western blotting and immunofluorescence were used to compare the expression and distribution of Nav1.8 in L4/L5 DRG between tumor-bearing and sham rats. Antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) against Nav1.8 were administered intrathecally at 14-16 days after surgery to knock down Nav1.8 protein expression and changes in pain-related behavior were observed.
Tumor-bearing rats exhibited mechanical hyperalgesia and ambulatory-evoked pain from day 7 after inoculation of Walker 256 cells. In the advanced stage of cancer pain (days 16-19 after surgery), normalized Nav1.8 mRNA levels assessed by real-time RT-PCR were significantly lower in ipsilateral L4/L5 DRG of tumor-bearing rats compared with the sham group. Western-blot showed that the total expression of Nav1.8 protein significantly decreased bilaterally in DRG of tumor-bearing rats. Furthermore, as revealed by immunofluorescence, only the expression of Nav1.8 protein in small neurons down regulated significantly in bilateral DRG of cancer pain rats. After administration of antisense ODNs against Nav1.8, Nav1.8 protein expression decreased significantly and tumor-bearing rats showed alleviated mechanical hyperalgesia and ambulatory-evoked pain.
These findings suggest that Nav1.8 plays a role in the development and maintenance of bone cancer pain.
Human voltage-activated sodium (Nav) channels are adept at rapidly transmitting electrical signals across long distances in various excitable tissues. As such, they are amongst the most widely targeted ion channels by drugs and animal toxins. Of the nine isoforms, Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 are preferentially expressed in DRG neurons where they are thought to play an important role in pain signaling. Although the functional properties of Nav1.8 have been relatively well characterized, difficulties with expressing Nav1.9 in established heterologous systems limit our understanding of the gating properties and toxin pharmacology of this particular isoform. This review summarizes our current knowledge of the role of Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 in pain perception and elaborates on the approaches used to identify molecules capable of influencing their function.
Nav1.8; Nav1.9; pain; animal toxins; voltage sensor; voltage-activated sodium channel
A direct role of sodium channels in pain has recently been confirmed by establishing a monogenic link between SCN9A, the gene which encodes sodium channel Nav1.7, and pain disorders in humans, with gain-of-function mutations causing severe pain syndromes, and loss-of-function mutations causing congenital indifference to pain. Expression of sodium channel Nav1.8 in DRG neurons has also been shown to be essential for the manifestation of mutant Nav1.7-induced neuronal hyperexcitability. These findings have confirmed key roles of Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 in pain and identify these channels as novel targets for pain therapeutic development. Ranolazine preferentially blocks cardiac late sodium currents at concentrations that do not significantly reduce peak sodium current. Ranolazine also blocks wild-type Nav1.7 and Nav1.8 channels in a use-dependent manner. However, ranolazine's effects on gain-of-function mutations of Nav1.7 and on DRG neuron excitability have not been investigated. We used voltage- and current-clamp recordings to evaluate the hypothesis that ranolazine may be effective in regulating Nav1.7-induced DRG neuron hyperexcitability.
We show that ranolazine produces comparable block of peak and ramp currents of wild-type Nav1.7 and mutant Nav1.7 channels linked to Inherited Erythromelalgia and Paroxysmal Extreme Pain Disorder. We also show that ranolazine, at a clinically-relevant concentration, blocks high-frequency firing of DRG neurons expressing wild-type but not mutant channels.
Our data suggest that ranalozine can attenuate hyperexcitability of DRG neurons over-expressing wild-type Nav1.7 channels, as occurs in acquired neuropathic and inflammatory pain, and thus merits further study as an alternative to existing non-selective sodium channel blockers.
The disabling chronic pain syndrome erythromelalgia (also termed erythermalgia) is characterized by attacks of burning pain in the extremities induced by warmth. Pharmacological treatment is often ineffective, but the pain can be alleviated by cooling of the limbs. Inherited erythromelalgia has recently been linked to mutations in the gene SCN9A, which encodes the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.7. Nav1.7 is preferentially expressed in most nociceptive DRG neurons and in sympathetic ganglion neurons. It has recently been shown that several disease-causing erythromelalgia mutations alter channel-gating behavior in a manner that increases DRG neuron excitability.
Here we tested the effects of temperature on gating properties of wild type Nav1.7 and mutant L858F channels. Whole-cell voltage-clamp measurements on wild type or L858F channels expressed in HEK293 cells revealed that cooling decreases current density, slows deactivation and increases ramp currents for both mutant and wild type channels. However, cooling differentially shifts the midpoint of steady-state activation in a depolarizing direction for L858F but not for wild type channels.
The cooling-dependent shift of the activation midpoint of L858F to more positive potentials brings the threshold of activation of the mutant channels closer to that of wild type Nav1.7 at lower temperatures, and is likely to contribute to the alleviation of painful symptoms upon cooling in affected limbs in patients with this erythromelalgia mutation.
Small unmyelinated sensory neurons classified as nociceptors are divided into two subpopulations based on phenotypic differences including expression of neurotrophic factor receptors. Approximately half of unmyelinated nociceptors express the NGF receptor TrkA and half express the GDNF Family Ligand (GFL) receptor Ret. The function of NGF/TrkA signaling in the TrkA population of nociceptors has been extensively studied and NGF/TrkA signaling is a well established mediator of pain. The GFLs are analgesic in models of neuropathic pain emphasizing the importance of understanding the physiological function of GFL/Ret signaling in nociceptors. However, perinatal lethality of Ret-null mice has precluded the study of the physiological role of GFL/Ret signaling in the survival, maintenance and function of nociceptors in viable mice. We deleted Ret exclusively in nociceptors by crossing nociceptor-specific Nav1.8 Cre and Ret conditional mice to produce Ret-Nav1.8 conditional knock out (CKO) mice. Loss of Ret exclusively in nociceptors results in a reduction in nociceptor number and size indicating Ret signaling is important for the survival and trophic support of these cells. Ret-Nav1.8 CKO mice exhibit reduced epidermal innervation, but normal central projections. In addition, Ret-Nav1.8 CKO mice have increased sensitivity to cold and increased formalin-induced pain, demonstrating that Ret signaling modulates the function of nociceptors in vivo. Enhanced inflammation-induced pain may be mediated by decreased Prostatic Acid Phosphatase (PAP) as PAP levels are markedly reduced in Ret-Nav1.8 CKO mice. The results of this study identify the physiological role of endogenous Ret signaling in the survival and function of nociceptors.
Ret; neurotrophic factor; GDNF; pain; inflammation; nociceptor
Inflammation or nerve injury-induced upregulation and release of chemokine CC chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) within the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) is believed to enhance the activity of DRG nociceptive neurons and cause hyperalgesia. Transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) and tetrodotoxin (TTX)-resistant Nav1.8 sodium channels play an essential role in regulating the excitability and pain transmission of DRG nociceptive neurons. We therefore tested the hypothesis that CCL2 causes peripheral sensitization of nociceptive DRG neurons by upregulating the function and expression of TRPV1 and Nav1.8 channels.
DRG neuronal culture was prepared from 3-week-old Sprague–Dawley rats and incubated with various concentrations of CCL2 for 24 to 36 hours. Whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings were performed to record TRPV1 agonist capsaicin-evoked inward currents or TTX-insensitive Na+ currents from control or CCL2-treated small DRG sensory neurons. The CCL2 effect on the mRNA expression of TRPV1 or Nav1.8 was measured by real-time quantitative RT-PCR assay.
Pretreatment of CCL2 for 24 to 36 hours dose-dependently (EC50 value = 0.6 ± 0.05 nM) increased the density of capsaicin-induced currents in small putative DRG nociceptive neurons. TRPV1 mRNA expression was greatly upregulated in DRG neurons preincubated with 5 nM CCL2. Pretreating small DRG sensory neurons with CCL2 also increased the density of TTX-resistant Na+ currents with a concentration-dependent manner (EC50 value = 0.7 ± 0.06 nM). The Nav1.8 mRNA level was significantly increased in DRG neurons pretreated with CCL2. In contrast, CCL2 preincubation failed to affect the mRNA level of TTX-resistant Nav1.9. In the presence of the specific phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY294002 or Akt inhibitor IV, CCL2 pretreatment failed to increase the current density of capsaicin-evoked inward currents or TTX-insensitive Na+ currents and the mRNA level of TRPV1 or Nav1.8.
Our results showed that CCL2 increased the function and mRNA level of TRPV1 channels and Nav1.8 sodium channels in small DRG sensory neurons via activating the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. These findings suggest that following tissue inflammation or peripheral nerve injury, upregulation and release of CCL2 within the DRG could facilitate pain transmission mediated by nociceptive DRG neurons and could induce hyperalgesia by upregulating the expression and function of TRPV1 and Nav1.8 channels in DRG nociceptive neurons.
CC chemokine ligand 2; Dorsal root ganglion neurons; Transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor 1; Tetrodotoxin-resistant Nav1.8 sodium channel
Painful neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes. Previous studies have identified significant increases in the amount of voltage gated sodium channel isoforms NaV1.7 and NaV1.3 protein in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of rats with streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes. We found that gene transfer-mediated release of the inhibitory neurotransmitters enkephalin or gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) from DRG neurons in diabetic animals reduced pain-related behaviors coincident with a reduction in NaV1.7 protein levels in DRG in vivo. To further evaluate the role of NaVα subunit levels in DRG in the pathogenesis of pain in diabetic neuropathy, we constructed a non-replicating herpes simplex virus (HSV)-based vector expressing a microRNA (miRNA) against NaVα subunits.
Subcutaneous inoculation of the miRNA-expressing HSV vector into the feet of diabetic rats to transduce DRG resulted in a reduction in NaVα subunit levels in DRG neurons, coincident with a reduction in cold allodynia, thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical hyperalgesia.
These data support the role of increased NaVα protein in DRG in the pathogenesis of pain in diabetic neuropathy, and provide a proof-of-principle demonstration for the development of a novel therapy that could be used to treat intractable pain in patients with diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetes; Pain; Neuropathy; Gene therapy; Sodium channel
Voltage gated sodium channels Nav1.7 are involved in nociceptor nerve action potentials and are known to affect pain sensitivity in clinical genetic disorders.
Aims and Objectives
To study Nav1.7 levels in dental pulpitis pain, an inflammatory condition, and burning mouth syndrome (BMS), considered a neuropathic orofacial pain disorder.
Two groups of patients were recruited for this study. One group consisted of patients with dental pulpitis pain (n = 5) and controls (n = 12), and the other patients with BMS (n = 7) and controls (n = 10). BMS patients were diagnosed according to the International Association for the Study of Pain criteria; a pain history was collected, including the visual analogue scale (VAS). Immunohistochemistry with visual intensity and computer image analysis were used to evaluate levels of Nav1.7 in dental pulp tissue samples from the dental pulpitis group, and tongue biopsies from the BMS group.
There was a significantly increased visual intensity score for Nav1.7 in nerve fibres in the painful dental pulp specimens, compared to controls. Image analysis showed a trend for an increase of the Nav1.7 immunoreactive % area in the painful pulp group, but this was not statistically significant. When expressed as a ratio of the neurofilament % area, there was a strong trend for an increase of Nav1.7 in the painful pulp group. Nav1.7 immunoreactive fibres were seen in abundance in the sub-mucosal layer of tongue biopsies, with no significant difference between BMS and controls.
Nav1.7 sodium channel may play a significant role in inflammatory dental pain. Clinical trials with selective Nav1.7 channel blockers should prioritise dental pulp pain rather than BMS.
The expression of voltage-gated sodium channels is regulated at multiple levels, and in this study we addressed the potential for alternative splicing of the Nav1.2, Nav1.3, Nav1.6 and Nav1.7 mRNAs. We isolated novel mRNA isoforms of Nav1.2 and Nav1.3 from adult mouse and rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG), Nav1.3 and Nav1.7 from adult mouse brain, and Nav1.7 from neonatal rat brain. These alternatively spliced isoforms introduce an additional exon (Nav1.2 exon 17A and topologically equivalent Nav1.7 exon 16A) or exon pair (Nav1.3 exons 17A and 17B) that contain an in-frame stop codon and result in predicted two-domain, truncated proteins. The mouse and rat orthologous exon sequences are highly conserved (94-100% identities), as are the paralogous Nav1.2 and Nav1.3 exons (93% identity in mouse) to which the Nav1.7 exon has only 60% identity. Previously, Nav1.3 mRNA has been shown to be upregulated in rat DRG following peripheral nerve injury, unlike the downregulation of all other sodium channel transcripts. Here we show that the expression of Nav1.3 mRNA containing exons 17A and 17B is unchanged in mouse following peripheral nerve injury (axotomy), whereas total Nav1.3 mRNA expression is upregulated by 33% (P=0.003), suggesting differential regulation of the alternatively spliced transcripts. The alternatively spliced rodent exon sequences are highly conserved in both the human and chicken genomes, with 77-89% and 72-76% identities to mouse, respectively. The widespread conservation of these sequences strongly suggests an additional level of regulation in the expression of these channels, that is also tissue-specific.
DRG; brain; alternative splicing; Scn2a; Scn3a; Scn9a
Voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.7 is preferentially expressed in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and sympathetic neurons within the peripheral nervous system. Homozygous or compound heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in SCN9A, the gene which encodes Nav1.7, cause congenital insensitivity to pain (CIP) accompanied by anosmia. Global knock-out of Nav1.7 in mice is neonatal lethal reportedly from starvation, suggesting anosmia. These findings led us to hypothesize that Nav1.7 is the main sodium channel in the peripheral olfactory sensory neurons (OSN, also known as olfactory receptor neurons).
We used multiplex PCR-restriction enzyme polymorphism, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry to determine the identity of sodium channels in rodent OSNs.
We show here that Nav1.7 is the predominant sodium channel transcript, with low abundance of other sodium channel transcripts, in olfactory epithelium from rat and mouse. Our in situ hybridization data show that Nav1.7 transcripts are present in rat OSNs. Immunostaining of Nav1.7 and Nav1.6 channels in rat shows a complementary accumulation pattern with Nav1.7 in peripheral presynaptic OSN axons, and Nav1.6 primarily in postsynaptic cells and their dendrites in the glomeruli of the olfactory bulb within the central nervous system.
Our data show that Nav1.7 is the dominant sodium channel in rat and mouse OSN, and may explain anosmia in Nav1.7 null mouse and patients with Nav1.7-related CIP.
Altered function of Na+ channels is responsible for increased hyperexcitability of primary afferent neurons that may underlie pathological pain states. Recent evidence suggests that the Nav1.9 subunit is implicated in inflammatory but not acute pain. However, the contribution of Nav1.9 channels to the cellular events underlying nociceptor hyperexcitability is still unknown, and there remains much uncertainty as to the biophysical properties of Nav1.9 current and its modulation by inflammatory mediators. Here, we use gene targeting strategy and computer modeling to identify Nav1.9 channel current signature and its impact on nociceptors' firing patterns. Recordings using internal fluoride in small DRG neurons from wild-type and Nav1.9-null mutant mice demonstrated that Nav1.9 subunits carry the TTX-resistant “persistent” Na+ current called NaN. Nav1.9−/− nociceptors showed no significant change in the properties of the slowly inactivating TTX-resistant SNS/Nav1.8 current. The loss in Nav1.9-mediated Na+ currents was associated with the inability of small DRG neurons to generate a large variety of electrophysiological behaviors, including subthreshold regenerative depolarizations, plateau potentials, active hyperpolarizing responses, oscillatory bursting discharges, and bistable membrane behaviors. We further investigated, using CsCl- and KCl-based pipette solutions, whether G-protein signaling pathways and inflammatory mediators upregulate the NaN/Nav1.9 current. Bradykinin, ATP, histamine, prostaglandin-E2, and norepinephrine, applied separately at maximal concentrations, all failed to modulate the Nav1.9 current. However, when applied conjointly as a soup of inflammatory mediators they rapidly potentiated Nav1.9 channel activity, generating subthreshold amplification and increased excitability. We conclude that Nav1.9 channel, the molecular correlate of the NaN current, is potentiated by the concerted action of inflammatory mediators that may contribute to nociceptors' hyperexcitability during peripheral inflammation.
Sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) express multiple voltage-gated sodium (Na) channels that substantially differ in gating kinetics and pharmacology. Small-diameter (<25 µm) neurons isolated from the rat DRG express a combination of fast tetrodotoxin-sensitive (TTX-S) and slow TTX-resistant (TTX-R) Na currents while large-diameter neurons (>30 µm) predominately express fast TTX-S Na current. Na channel expression was further investigated using single-cell RT-PCR to measure the transcripts present in individually harvested DRG neurons. Consistent with cellular electrophysiology, the small neurons expressed transcripts encoding for both TTX-S (Nav1.1, Nav1.2, Nav1.6, Nav1.7) and TTX-R (Nav1.8, Nav1.9) Na channels. Nav1.7, Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 were the predominant Na channels expressed in the small neurons. The large neurons highly expressed TTX-S isoforms (Nav1.1, Nav1.6, Nav1.7) while TTX-R channels were present at comparatively low levels. A unique subpopulation of the large neurons was identified that expressed TTX-R Na current and high levels of Nav1.8 transcript. DRG neurons also displayed substantial differences in the expression of neurofilaments (NF200, peripherin) and Necl-1, a neuronal adhesion molecule involved in myelination. The preferential expression of NF200 and Necl-1 suggests that large-diameter neurons give rise to thick myelinated axons. Small-diameter neurons expressed peripherin, but reduced levels of NF200 and Necl-1, a pattern more consistent with thin unmyelinated axons. Single-cell analysis of Na channel transcripts indicates that TTX-S and TTX-R Na channels are differentially expressed in large myelinated (Nav1.1, Nav1.6, Nav1.7) and small unmyelinated (Nav1.7, Nav1.8, Nav1.9) sensory neurons.
Sodium channel; dorsal root ganglia; single-cell RT-PCR; Necl-1; NF200; peripherin
Voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs) play a key role in the initiation and propagation of action potentials in neurons. NaV1.8 is a tetrodotoxin (TTX) resistant VGSC expressed in nociceptors, peripheral small-diameter neurons able to detect noxious stimuli. NaV1.8 underlies the vast majority of sodium currents during action potentials. Many studies have highlighted a key role for NaV1.8 in inflammatory and chronic pain models. Lipid rafts are microdomains of the plasma membrane highly enriched in cholesterol and sphingolipids. Lipid rafts tune the spatial and temporal organisation of proteins and lipids on the plasma membrane. They are thought to act as platforms on the membrane where proteins and lipids can be trafficked, compartmentalised and functionally clustered. In the present study we investigated NaV1.8 sub-cellular localisation and explored the idea that it is associated with lipid rafts in nociceptors. We found that NaV1.8 is distributed in clusters along the axons of DRG neurons in vitro and ex vivo. We also demonstrated, by biochemical and imaging studies, that NaV1.8 is associated with lipid rafts along the sciatic nerve ex vivo and in DRG neurons in vitro. Moreover, treatments with methyl-β-cyclodextrin (MβCD) and 7-ketocholesterol (7KC) led to the dissociation between rafts and NaV1.8. By calcium imaging we demonstrated that the lack of association between rafts and NaV1.8 correlated with impaired neuronal excitability, highlighted by a reduction in the number of neurons able to conduct mechanically- and chemically-evoked depolarisations. These findings reveal the sub-cellular localisation of NaV1.8 in nociceptors and highlight the importance of the association between NaV1.8 and lipid rafts in the control of nociceptor excitability.