Changes in skin levels of two neutotrophins (glial cell line derived neurotrohic factor and neurotrophin-3) cause alterations in cutaneous neuron responses to mechanical stimuli

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Jeffrey Lawson(Department of Neurobiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA)
Sabrina L. Mcllwrath(Department of Neurobiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA)
H. Richard Koerber(Department of Neurobiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA)
Journal Title:
Volume 60, Issue 05, 2008
Key Word:
dorsal root ganglion;sensory neurons;nociceptors;transgenic mice

Abstract´╝Ü Neurotrophins are important for the development and maintenance of both high and low threshold mechanoreceptors (HTMRs and LTMRs). In this series of studies, the effects of constitutive overexpression of two different neurotrophins, neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) and glial cell line derived neurotrohic factor (GDNF), were examined. Previous studies indicated that both of them may be implicated in the normal development of mouse dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Neurons from mice transgenically altered to overexpress NT-3 or GDNF (NT-3-OE or GDNF-OE mice) in the skin were examined using several physiological, immunohistochemi-cal and molecular techniques. Ex vivo skin/nerve/DRG/spinal cord and skin/nerve preparations were used to determine the response characteristics of the cutaneous neurons; immunohistochemistry was used to examine the biochemical phenotype of DRG cells and the skin; RT-PCR was used to examine the levels of candidate ion channels in skin and DRG that may correlate with changes in physiologi-cal responses. In GDNF-OE mice, I-isolectin B4 (IB4)-immunopositive C-HTMRs (nociceptors), a large percentage of which are sensitive to GDNF, had significantly lower mechanical thresholds than wildtype (WT) neurons. Heat thresholds for the same cells were not different. Mechanical sensitivity changes in GDNF-OE mice were correlated with significant increases in acid sensing ion channels 2a (ASIC2a) and 2b (ASIC2b) and transient receptor potential channel AI (TRPAI), all of which are putative mechanosensitive ion channels. Overexpression of NT-3 affected the responses of A-LTMRs and A-HTMRs, hut had no effect on C-HTMRs. Slowly adapting type 1 (SA1) LTMRs and A-HTMRs had increased mechanical sensitivity compared to WT. Mechanical sensitivity was correlated with significant increases in acid-sensing ion channels ASIC1 and ASIC3. This data indicates that both neurotrophins play roles in determining mechanical thresholds of cutaneous HTMRs and LTMRs and that sensitivity changes involve the ASIC family of putative mechanoreceptive ion channels.

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