During development, the rescue of spinal motoneurons as well as sensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) from programmed cell death (PCD) depends on the integrity of peripheral target innervation. Following deletion of the pro-apoptotic gene Bax, both motoneurons and DRG neurons are rescued from PCD. In the present paper, we asked whether different cell types in the DRG exhibit distinct responses to Bax deletion. In 1-month-old Bax-deficient (Bax-/-) mice, distinct subsets of DRG neurons that were immunopositive for TrkA, CGRP, TRPV1 or TrkC, were all increased in number and exhibited cell atrophy compared to wild type DRG neurons. In addition there was hyperinnervation of the epidermis by CGRP immunopositive processes and a correlated functional hypersensitivity of mechanical nociception in Bax-/- mice. By contrast, the functional properties of populations of rescued thermoreceptor and mechanoreceptor DRG neurons were unchanged. These data indicate that although Bax deletion rescues all of the DRG cell types examined here from PCD, the functional consequences of having excess cells differ between sensory phenotypes.
CDP-choline (citicholine; cytidine-5-diphosphate choline) is an endogenously produced nucleotide which, when injected intracerebroventricularly, exerts an antinociceptive effect in acute pain models mediated by central cholinergic mechanisms and alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (alpha7nAChR). Previous reports also suggest that the peripheral cholinergic system has an antiinflammatory role mediated by alpha7nAChRs on macrophages.
Chronic pain is a vexing worldwide problem that causes substantial disability and consumes significant medical resources. Although there are numerous analgesic medications, these work through a small set of molecular mechanisms. Even when these medications are used in combination, substantial amounts of pain often remain. It is therefore highly desirable to develop treatments that work through distinct mechanisms of action. While agonists of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) have been intensively studied, new data suggest a role for selective antagonists of nAChRs. alpha-Conotoxins are small peptides used offensively by carnivorous marine snails known as Conus. A subset of these peptides known as alpha-conotoxins RgIA and Vc1.1 produces both acute and long lasting analgesia. In addition, these peptides appear to accelerate the recovery of function after nerve injury, possibly through immune mediated mechanisms. Pharmacological analysis indicates that RgIA and Vc1.1 are selective antagonists of alpha9alpha10 nAChRs. A recent study also reported that these alpha9alpha10 antagonists are also potent GABA-B agonists. In the current study, we were unable to detect RgIA or Vc1.1 binding to or action on cloned GABA-B receptors expressed in HEK cells or Xenopus oocytes. We review the background, findings and implications of use of compounds that act on alpha9* nAChRs.(1).
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