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Silencing the Kir4.1 potassium channel subunit in satellite glial cells of the rat trigeminal ganglion results in pain-like behavior in the absence of nerve injury.

Jean-Philippe Vit, Peter T Ohara, Aditi Bhargava, Kanwar Kelley, Luc Jasmin

J. Neurosci., 2008 Apr 16 , 28, 4161-71

Growing evidence suggests that changes in the ion buffering capacity of glial cells can give rise to neuropathic pain. In the CNS, potassium ion (K+) buffering is dependent on the glia-specific inward rectifying K+ channel Kir4.1. We recently reported that the satellite glial cells that surround primary sensory neurons located in sensory ganglia of the peripheral nervous system also express Kir4.1, whereas the neurons do not. In the present study, we show that, in the rat trigeminal ganglion, the location of the primary sensory neurons for face sensation, specific silencing of Kir4.1 using RNA interference leads to spontaneous and evoked facial pain-like behavior in freely moving rats. We also show that Kir4.1 in the trigeminal ganglion is reduced after chronic constriction injury of the infraorbital nerve. These findings suggests that neuropathic pain can result from a change in expression of a single K+ channel in peripheral glial cells, raising the possibility of targeting Kir4.1 to treat pain in general and particularly neuropathic pain that occurs in the absence of nerve injury.