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Inflammation-induced increase in hyperpolarization-activated, cyclic nucleotide-gated channel protein in trigeminal ganglion neurons and the effect of buprenorphine.

H-J Cho, V Staikopoulos, J B Furness, E A Jennings

Neuroscience, 2009 Aug 18 , 162, 453-61

Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels are active at resting membrane potential and thus contribute to neuronal excitability. Their increased activity has recently been demonstrated in models of nerve injury-induced pain. The major aim of the current study was to investigate altered HCN channel protein expression in trigeminal sensory neurons following inflammation of the dura. HCN1 and HCN2 channel immunoreactivity was observed on the membranes of medium- to large-sized trigeminal ganglion neurons with 76% and 85% of HCN1 and HCN2 expressing neurons also containing the 200 kDa neurofilament protein (associated with myelinated fibers). Western immunoblots of lysates from rat trigeminal ganglia also showed bands with appropriate molecular weights for HCN1 and HCN2. Three days after application of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) to the dura mater, Western blot band densities were significantly increased; compared to control, to 166% for HCN1 and 284% for HCN2 channel protein. The band densities were normalized against alpha-actin. In addition, the number of retrogradely labeled neurons from the dura expressing HCN1 and HCN2 was significantly increased to 247% (HCN1) and 171% (HCN2), three days after inflammation. When the opioid receptor partial agonist, buprenorphine, was given systemically, immediately after CFA, the inflammation-induced increase in HCN protein expression in both Western blot and immunohistochemical experiments was not observed. These results suggest that HCN1 and HCN2 are involved in inflammation-induced sensory neuron hyperexcitability, and indicate that an opioid receptor agonist can reverse the protein upregulation.