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Dissecting the role of sodium currents in visceral sensory neurons in a model of chronic hyperexcitability using Nav1.8 and Nav1.9 null mice.

Kirk Hillsley, Jia-Hui Lin, Andre Stanisz, David Grundy, Jeroen Aerssens, Pieter J Peeters, Diederik Moechars, Bernard Coulie, Ronald H Stead

J. Physiol. (Lond.), 2006 Oct 1 , 576, 257-67

Tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-R) sodium currents have been proposed to underlie sensory neuronal hyperexcitability in acute inflammatory models, but their role in chronic models is unknown. Since no pharmacological tools to separate TTX-R currents are available, this study employs Na(v)1.8 and Na(v)1.9 null mice to evaluate these currents roles in a chronic hyperexcitability model after the resolution of an inflammatory insult. Transient jejunitis was induced by infection with Nippostrongylus brasiliensis (Nb) in Na(v)1.9 and Na(v)1.8 null, wild-type and naïve mice. Retrogradely labelled dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons were harvested on day 20-24 post-infection for patch clamp recording. Rheobase and action potential (AP) parameters were recorded as measures of excitability, and Na(v)1.9 and Na(v)1.8 currents were recorded. DRG neuronal excitability was significantly increased in post-infected mice compared to sham animals, despite the absence of ongoing inflammation (sham = 1.9 +/- 0.3, infected = 3.6 +/- 0.7 APs at 2x rheobase, P = 0.02). Hyperexcitability was associated with a significantly increased amplitude of TTX-R currents. Hyperexcitability was maintained in Na(v)1.9(-/-) mice, but hyperexcitability was absent and APs were blunted in Na(v)1.8(-/-) mice. This study identifies a critical role for Na(v)1.8 in chronic post-infectious visceral hyperexcitability, with no contribution from Na(v)1.9. Nb infection-induced hyperexcitability is not observed in Na(v)1.8(-/-) mice, but is still present in Na(v)1.9(-/-) mice. It is not clear whether hyperexcitability is due to a change in the function of Na(v)1.8 channels or a change in the number of Na(v)1.8 channels.