High-voltage-activated calcium current subtypes in mouse DRG neurons adapt in a subpopulation-specific manner after nerve injury

Swetha S Murali, Ian A Napier, Sarasa A Mohammadi, Paul F Alewood, Richard J Lewis, MacDonald J Christie
Journal of Neurophysiology 2015 March 1, 113 (5): 1511-9
Changes in ion channel function and expression are characteristic of neuropathic pain. Voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) are integral for neurotransmission and membrane excitability, but relatively little is known about changes in their expression after nerve injury. In this study, we investigate whether peripheral nerve ligation is followed by changes in the density and proportion of high-voltage-activated (HVA) VGCC current subtypes in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons, the contribution of presynaptic N-type calcium channels in evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) recorded from dorsal horn neurons in the spinal cord, and the changes in expression of mRNA encoding VGCC subunits in DRG neurons. Using C57BL/6 mice [8- to 11-wk-old males (n = 91)] for partial sciatic nerve ligation or sham surgery, we performed whole cell patch-clamp recordings on isolated DRG neurons and dorsal horn neurons and measured the expression of all VGCC subunits with RT-PCR in DRG neurons. After nerve injury, the density of P/Q-type current was reduced overall in DRG neurons. There was an increase in the percentage of N-type and a decrease in that of P/Q-type current in medium- to large-diameter neurons. No changes were found in the contribution of presynaptic N-type calcium channels in evoked EPSCs recorded from dorsal horn neurons. The α2δ-1 subunit was upregulated by 1.7-fold and γ-3, γ-2, and β-4 subunits were all downregulated 1.7-fold in injured neurons compared with sham-operated neurons. This comprehensive characterization of HVA VGCC subtypes in mouse DRG neurons after nerve injury revealed changes in N- and P/Q-type current proportions only in medium- to large-diameter neurons.

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