Spontaneous firing and evoked responses of spinal nociceptive neurons are attenuated by blockade of P2X3 and P2X2/3 receptors in inflamed rats
P2X3 and P2X2/3 receptors are selectively expressed on primary afferent nociceptors and have been implicated in modulating nociception in different models of pathological pain, including inflammatory pain. In an effort to delineate further the role of P2X3 receptors (homomeric and heteromeric) in the modulation of nociceptive transmission after a chronic inflammation injury, A-317491, a potent and selective P2X3-P2X2/3 antagonist, was administered to CFA-inflamed rats in order to examine its effects on responses of spinal dorsal horn neurons to mechanical and thermal stimulation. Systemic injection of A-317491 (30 μmol/kg, i.v.) reduced the responses of wide-dynamic-range (WDR) and nociceptive specific (NS) neurons to both high-intensity mechanical (pinch) and heat (49°C) stimulation. A-317491 also decreased low-intensity (10 g von Frey hair) mechanically evoked activity of WDR neurons but did not alter WDR neuronal responses to cold stimulation (5°C). Spontaneous firing of WDR neurons in CFA-inflamed rats was also significantly attenuated by A-317491 injection. By using immunohistochemistry, P2X3 receptors were demonstrated to be enhanced in lamina II of the spinal dorsal horn after inflammation. In summary, blockade of P2X3 and P2X2/3 receptors dampens mechanical- and heat-related signaling, as well as nonevoked activity of key classes of spinal nociceptive neurons in inflamed animals. These data suggest that P2X3 and/or P2X2/3 receptors have a broad contribution to somatosensory/nociceptive transmission in rats with a chronic inflammatory injury and are consistent with previous behavioral data demonstrating antiallodynic and antihyperalgesic effects of receptor antagonists.