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Relationship between sodium channel NaV1.3 expression and neuropathic pain behavior in rats.

Jill A Lindia, Martin G Köhler, William J Martin, Catherine Abbadie

Pain, 2005 Sep , 117, 145-53

A multitude of voltage-gated sodium channel subtypes (NaV1) are expressed in primary sensory neurons where they influence excitability via their role in the generation and propagation of action potentials. Peripheral nerve injury alters the expression of several NaV1subtypes, but among these only NaV1.3 is up-regulated in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons. The increased expression of NaV1.3 implicates this subtype in the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain, but its contribution to neuropathic pain behavior has not been examined. Using the spared nerve injury (SNI) model, we found that peripheral nerve lesion increased NaV1.3-like immunoreactivity (-LI) in DRG neurons and that mechanical allodynia was partially alleviated following oral administration of two NaV1 blockers, mexiletine (30 and 100 mg/kg, p.o.) and lamotrigine (30 and 100 mg/kg, p.o.). Intrathecal administration of antisense oligonucleotides (4 days) selective for NaV1.3 decreased NaV1.3 immunostaining in the DRG by 50% in the SNI model, but did not attenuate mechanical or cold allodynia. Moreover, we found that only 18% of NaV1.3 positive neurons also expressed activated transcription factor-3 (ATF3), a marker of injured neurons. We then selectively axotomized a cutaneous nerve (sural) and a muscle nerve (gastrocnemius) in order to identify if NaV1.3 up-regulation is dependent on cutaneous and/or muscle afferent activation and found that the numbers of neurons expressing NaV1.3 was proportional to the magnitude of the injury, but independent of the nature of innervation. These results suggest that NaV1.3 increases in primary sensory neurons that are not directly damaged in response to injury. Thus, although NaV1.3 is up-regulated in a subpopulation of DRG neurons after injury, reduction in the expression of NaV1.3 subtype alone is not sufficient to influence the NaV1-dependent behavioral hypersensitivity associated with nerve injury.