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Behavioral changes and trigeminal ganglion sodium channel regulation in an orofacial neuropathic pain model.

Jonas Eriksson, Aleksandra Jablonski, Anna-Karin Persson, Jing-Xia Hao, Poli Francois Kouya, Zsuzsanna Wiesenfeld-Hallin, Xiao-Jun Xu, Kaj Fried

Pain, 2005 Dec 15 , 119, 82-94

We used a photochemical method to generate a partial ischemic injury to the infraorbital branch of the trigeminal nerve in rats. Following injury, rats developed a bilateral persistent hypersensitivity to mechanical stimulation in the territory innervated by the infraorbital nerve. In addition, spread of mechanical hypersensitivity beyond the facial region was noted. Heat hypersensitivity was also present, although to a lesser extent and of a shorter duration. In some rats, excessive facial grooming/scratching were observed. Morphological examination revealed a graded damage to the irradiated portion of the infraorbital nerve that was related to the duration of laser irradiation. Investigations of gene expression changes in injured trigeminal ganglion neurons of animals with behavioral signs of neuropathic pain demonstrated that the sodium channel alpha-subunit Na(v)1.3-absent in sham-operated animals-was expressed to a limited extent. mRNAs for Na(v)1.8 and Na(v)1.9 were reduced both with respect to proportions of expressing neurons and to intensities, whereas the beta 3 subunit was markedly upregulated. mRNA levels of p11, a regulatory factor that facilitates the surface expression of Na(v)1.8, were unchanged. Previous findings have shown that injury to the trigeminal nerve branches may elicit responses that differ from those of segmental spinal nerves. Despite this we conclude that the key sodium channel regulations that are reported as consequences of nerve damage in the dorsal root ganglia seem to appear also in the trigeminal ganglion. Thus, novel analgesic drugs designed to target the sodium channel subtypes involved could be of use for the treatment of orofacial pain.