[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ablating or functionally compromising sets of sensory neurons has provided important insights into peripheral modality-specific wiring in the somatosensory system. Inflammatory hyperalgesia, cold pain, and noxious mechanosensation have all been shown to depend upon Na(v)1.8-positive sensory neurons. The release of fast-acting neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, and more slowly released neuropeptides, such as substance P (SP), contribute to the diversified responses to external stimuli. Here we show that deleting Vglut2 in Na(v)1.8(Cre)-positive neurons compromised mechanical pain and NGF-induced thermal hyperalgesia, whereas tactile-evoked sensation, thermal, formalin-evoked, and chronic neuropathic pain were normal. However, when Vglut2(f/f);Na(v)1.8(Cre) mice were injected with a SP antagonist before the formalin test, the second phase pain response was nearly completely abolished, whereas in control mice, the pain response was unaffected. Our results suggest that VGLUT2-dependent signaling originating from Na(v)1.8-positive neurons is a principal sensing mechanism for mechanical pain and, together with SP, inflammatory pain. These data define sets of primary afferents associated with specific modalities and provide useful genetic tools with which to analyze the pathways that are activated by functionally distinct neuronal populations and transmitters.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2011; 108(14):5789-94. · 9.74 Impact Factor