Changes in calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor component and nitric oxide receptor (sGC) immunoreactivity in rat trigeminal ganglion following glyceroltrinitrate pretreatment

Kristin Seiler, Judith I Nusser, Jochen K Lennerz, Winfried L Neuhuber, Karl Messlinger
Journal of Headache and Pain 2013 September 3, 14: 74

BACKGROUND: Nitric oxide (NO) is thought to play an important role in the pathophysiology of migraine. Infusion of the nitrovasodilator glyceroltrinitrate (nitroglycerin, GTN), which mobilizes NO in the organism, is an approved migraine model in humans. Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is regarded as another key mediator in migraine. Increased plasma levels of CGRP have been found during spontaneous as well as nitrovasodilator-induced migraine attacks. The nociceptive processes and interactions underlying the NO and CGRP mediated headache are poorly known but can be examined in animal experiments. In the present study we examined changes in immunofluorescence of CGRP receptor components (CLR and RAMP1) and soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC), the intracellular receptor for NO, in rat trigeminal ganglia after pretreatment with GTN.

METHODS: Isoflurane anaesthetised rats were intravenously infused with GTN (1 mg/kg) or saline for four hours and two hours later the trigeminal ganglia were processed for immunohistochemistry. Different primary antibodies recognizing CLR, RAMP1, CGRP and sGC coupled to fluorescent secondary antibodies were used to examine immunoreactive cells in serial sections of trigeminal ganglia with epifluorescence and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Several staining protocols were examined to yield optimized immunolabeling.

RESULTS: In vehicle-treated animals, 42% of the trigeminal ganglion neurons were immunopositive for RAMP1 and 41% for CLR. After GTN pretreatment CLR-immunopositivity was unchanged, while there was an increase in RAMP1-immunopositive neurons to 46%. RAMP1 and CLR immunoreactivity was also detected in satellite cells. Neurons immunoreactive for sGC were on average smaller than sGC-immunonegative neurons. The percentage of sGC-immunopositive neurons (51% after vehicle) was decreased after GTN infusion (48%).

CONCLUSIONS: Prolonged infusion of GTN caused increased fractions of RAMP1- and decreased fractions of sGC-immunopositive neurons in the trigeminal ganglion. The observed alterations are likely immunophenotypic correlates of the pathophysiological processes underlying nitrovasodilator-induced migraine attacks and indicate that signalling via CGRP receptors but not sGC-mediated mechanisms may be enhanced through endogenous NO production.

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