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1.  Characterisation of cannabinoid 1 receptor expression in the perikarya, and peripheral and spinal processes of primary sensory neurons 
Brain structure & function  2012;218(3):733-750.
The cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptor is expressed by a sub-population of primary sensory neurons. However, data on the neurochemical identity of the CB1 receptor-expressing cells, and CB1 receptor expression by the peripheral and central terminals of these neurons are inconsistent and limited. We characterised CB1 receptor expression in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and spinal cord at the lumbar 4–5 level, as well as in the urinary bladder and glabrous skin of the hindpaw. About 1/3 of DRG neurons exhibited immunopositivity for the CB1 receptor, the majority of which showed positivity for the nociceptive markers calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) or/and Griffonia (bandeiraea) simplicifolia IB4 isolectin-binding. Virtually all CB1 receptor-immunostained fibres showed immunopositivity for CGRP in the skin, while almost none did in the urinary bladder. No CB1 receptor-immunopositive nerve fibres were IB4 positive in either peripheral tissue. Spinal laminae I and II-outer showed the highest density of CB1 receptor-immunopositive punctae, the majority of which showed positivity for CGRP or/and IB4 binding. These data indicate that a major sub-population of nociceptive primary sensory neurons expresses CB1 receptors that are transported to both peripheral and central terminals of these cells. Therefore, the present data suggest that manipulation of endogenous CB1 receptor agonist levels in these areas may significantly reduce nociceptive input into the spinal cord.
PMCID: PMC3703839  PMID: 22618437
Anti-nociception; Somatosensory; Viscerosensory; Peptidergic; Non-peptidergic
2.  VEGF signaling mediates bladder neuroplasticity and inflammation in response to BCG 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:16.
This work tests the hypothesis that increased levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) observed during bladder inflammation modulates nerve plasticity.
Chronic inflammation was induced by intravesical instillations of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) into the urinary bladder and the density of nerves expressing the transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily 1 (TRPV1) or pan-neuronal marker PGP9.5 was used to quantify alterations in peripheral nerve plasticity. Some mice were treated with B20, a VEGF neutralizing antibody to reduce the participation of VEGF. Additional mice were treated systemically with antibodies engineered to specifically block the binding of VEGF to NRP1 (anti-NRP1B) and NRP2 (NRP2B), or the binding of semaphorins to NRP1 (anti-NRP1 A) to diminish activity of axon guidance molecules such as neuropilins (NRPs) and semaphorins (SEMAs). To confirm that VEGF is capable of inducing inflammation and neuronal plasticity, another group of mice was instilled with recombinant VEGF165 or VEGF121 into the urinary bladder.
The major finding of this work was that chronic BCG instillation resulted in inflammation and an overwhelming increase in both PGP9.5 and TRPV1 immunoreactivity, primarily in the sub-urothelium of the urinary bladder. Treatment of mice with anti-VEGF neutralizing antibody (B20) abolished the effect of BCG on inflammation and nerve density.
NRP1A and NRP1B antibodies, known to reduce BCG-induced inflammation, failed to block BCG-induced increase in nerve fibers. However, the NRP2B antibody dramatically potentiated the effects of BCG in increasing PGP9.5-, TRPV1-, substance P (SP)-, and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-immunoreactivity (IR). Finally, instillation of VEGF121 or VEGF165 into the mouse bladder recapitulated the effects of BCG and resulted in a significant inflammation and increase in nerve density.
For the first time, evidence is being presented supporting that chronic BCG instillation into the mouse bladder promotes a significant increase in peripheral nerve density that was mimicked by VEGF instillation. Effects of BCG were abolished by pre-treatment with neutralizing VEGF antibody. The present results implicate the VEGF pathway as a key modulator of inflammation and nerve plasticity, introduces a new animal model for investigation of VEGF-induced nerve plasticity, and suggests putative mechanisms underlying this phenomenon.
PMCID: PMC3226567  PMID: 22059553

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