Katharina Funk

Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

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Publications (3)10.21 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Chloride currents in peripheral nociceptive neurons have been implicated in the generation of afferent nociceptive signals, as Cl- accumulation in sensory endings establishes the driving force for depolarizing, and even excitatory, Cl- currents. The intracellular Cl- concentration can, however, vary considerably between individual DRG neurons. This raises the question, whether the contribution of Cl- currents to signal generation differs between individual afferent neurons, and whether the specific Cl- levels in these neurons are subject to modulation. Based on the hypothesis that modulation of the peripheral Cl- homeostasis is involved in the generation of inflammatory hyperalgesia, we examined the effects of inflammatory mediators on intracellular Cl- concentrations and on the expression levels of Cl- transporters in rat DRG neurons. We developed an in vitro assay for testing how inflammatory mediators influence Cl- concentration and the expression of Cl- transporters. Intact DRGs were treated with 100 ng/ml NGF, 1.8 microM ATP, 0.9 microM bradykinin, and 1.4 microM PGE2 for 1-3 hours. Two-photon fluorescence lifetime imaging with the Cl--sensitive dye MQAE revealed an increase of the intracellular Cl- concentration within 2 hours of treatment. This effect coincided with enhanced phosphorylation of the Na+-K+-2Cl- cotransporter NKCC1, suggesting that an increased activity of that transporter caused the early rise of intracellular Cl- levels. Immunohistochemistry of NKCC1 and KCC2, the main neuronal Cl- importer and exporter, respectively, exposed an inverse regulation by the inflammatory mediators. While the NKCC1 immunosignal increased, that of KCC2 declined after 3 hours of treatment. In contrast, the mRNA levels of the two transporters did not change markedly during this time. These data demonstrate a fundamental transition in Cl- homeostasis toward a state of augmented Cl- accumulation, which is induced by a 1-3 hour treatment with inflammatory mediators. Our findings indicate that inflammatory mediators impact on Cl- homeostasis in DRG neurons. Inflammatory mediators raise intracellular Cl- levels and, hence, the driving force for depolarizing Cl- efflux. These findings corroborate current concepts for the role of Cl- regulation in the generation of inflammatory hyperalgesia and allodynia. As the intracellular Cl- concentration rises in DRG neurons, afferent signals can be boosted by excitatory Cl- currents in the presynaptic terminals. Moreover, excitatory Cl- currents in peripheral sensory endings may also contribute to the generation or modulation of afferent signals, especially in inflamed tissue.
    Molecular Pain 02/2008; 4:32. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent research into the generation of hyperalgesia has revealed that both the excitability of peripheral nociceptors and the transmission of their afferent signals in the spinal cord are subject to modulation by Cl(-) currents. The underlying Cl(-) homeostasis of nociceptive neurons, in particular its postnatal maturation, is, however, poorly understood. Here we measure the intracellular Cl(-) concentration, [Cl(-)]i, of somatosensory neurons in intact dorsal root ganglia of mice. Using two-photon fluorescence-lifetime imaging microscopy, we determined [Cl(-)]i in newborn and adult animals. We found that the somatosensory neurons undergo a transition of Cl(-) homeostasis during the first three postnatal weeks that leads to a decline of [Cl(-)]i in most neurons. Immunohistochemistry showed that a major fraction of neurons in the dorsal root ganglia express the cation-chloride co-transporters NKCC1 and KCC2, indicating that the molecular equipment for Cl(-) accumulation and extrusion is present. RT-PCR analysis showed that the transcription pattern of electroneutral Cl(-) co-transporters does not change during the maturation process. These findings demonstrate that dorsal root ganglion neurons undergo a developmental transition of chloride homeostasis during the first three postnatal weeks. This process parallels the developmental "chloride switch" in the central nervous system. However, while most CNS neurons achieve homogeneously low [Cl(-)]i levels - which is the basis of GABAergic and glycinergic inhibition - somatosensory neurons maintain a heterogeneous pattern of [Cl(-)]i values. This suggests that Cl(-) currents are excitatory in some somatosensory neurons, but inhibitory in others. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that Cl(-) homeostasis in somatosensory neurons is regulated through posttranslational modification of cation-chloride co-transporters.
    International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience 12/2007; 25(7):479-89. · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The vanilloid capsaicin, N-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzyl)-8-methylnon-6-enamide, is the pungent ingredient of chili peppers and is used in pain research as an activating ligand of heat-sensitive transduction channels in nociceptive neurons. Here we describe the synthesis and application of two capsaicin derivatives modified at the hydroxy function of the vanillyl motif: alpha-carboxy-4,5-dimethoxy-2-nitrobenzyl-caged (CDMNB-caged) capsaicin and {7-[bis(carboxymethyl)amino]coumarin-4-yl}methoxycarbonyl-caged (BCMACMOC-caged) capsaicin. These compounds show dramatically reduced pungency, but release active capsaicin upon irradiation with UV light. CDMNB-caged capsaicin can be used to perform concentration-jump experiments, while BCMACMOC-caged capsaicin is membrane-impermeant and can be applied selectively to the intracellular or extracellular sides of a plasma membrane. Both compounds can serve as valuable research tools in pain physiology.
    ChemBioChem 02/2007; 8(1):89-97. · 3.74 Impact Factor