Publications by authors named "Helen H Willcockson"

15 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

CD73 Maintains Hepatocyte Metabolic Integrity and Mouse Liver Homeostasis in a Sex-Dependent Manner.

Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol 2021 Jan 29;12(1):141-157. Epub 2021 Jan 29.

Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Electronic address:

Background & Aims: Metabolic imbalance and inflammation are common features of chronic liver diseases. Molecular factors controlling these mechanisms represent potential therapeutic targets. CD73 is the major enzyme that dephosphorylates extracellular adenosine monophosphate (AMP) to form the anti-inflammatory adenosine. CD73 is expressed on pericentral hepatocytes, which are important for long-term liver homeostasis. We aimed to determine if CD73 has nonredundant hepatoprotective functions.

Methods: Liver-specific CD73 knockout (CD73-LKO) mice were generated by targeting the Nt5e gene in hepatocytes. The CD73-LKO mice and hepatocytes were characterized using multiple approaches.

Results: Deletion of hepatocyte Nt5e resulted in an approximately 70% reduction in total liver CD73 protein (P < .0001). Male and female CD73-LKO mice developed normally during the first 21 weeks without significant liver phenotypes. Between 21 and 42 weeks, the CD73-LKO mice developed spontaneous-onset liver disease, with significant severity in male mice. Middle-aged male CD73-LKO mice showed hepatocyte swelling and ballooning (P < .05), inflammation (P < .01), and variable steatosis. Female CD73-LKO mice had lower serum albumin levels (P < .05) and increased inflammatory genes (P < .01), but did not show the spectrum of histopathologic changes in male mice, potentially owing to compensatory induction of adenosine receptors. Serum analysis and proteomic profiling of hepatocytes from male CD73-LKO mice showed significant metabolic imbalance, with increased blood urea nitrogen (P < .0001) and impairments in major metabolic pathways, including oxidative phosphorylation and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling. There was significant hypophosphorylation of AMPK substrates in CD73-LKO livers (P < .0001), while in isolated hepatocytes treated with AMP, soluble CD73 induced AMPK activation (P < .001).

Conclusions: Hepatocyte CD73 supports long-term metabolic liver homeostasis through AMPK in a sex-dependent manner. These findings have implications for human liver diseases marked by CD73 dysregulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcmgh.2021.01.016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8082562PMC
January 2021

Isolation of Intermediate Filament Proteins from Multiple Mouse Tissues to Study Aging-associated Post-translational Modifications.

J Vis Exp 2017 05 18(123). Epub 2017 May 18.

Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;

Intermediate filaments (IFs), together with actin filaments and microtubules, form the cytoskeleton - a critical structural element of every cell. Normal functioning IFs provide cells with mechanical and stress resilience, while a dysfunctional IF cytoskeleton compromises cellular health and has been associated with many human diseases. Post-translational modifications (PTMs) critically regulate IF dynamics in response to physiological changes and under stress conditions. Therefore, the ability to monitor changes in the PTM signature of IFs can contribute to a better functional understanding, and ultimately conditioning, of the IF system as a stress responder during cellular injury. However, the large number of IF proteins, which are encoded by over 70 individual genes and expressed in a tissue-dependent manner, is a major challenge in sorting out the relative importance of different PTMs. To that end, methods that enable monitoring of PTMs on IF proteins on an organism-wide level, rather than for isolated members of the family, can accelerate research progress in this area. Here, we present biochemical methods for the isolation of the total, detergent-soluble, and detergent-resistant fraction of IF proteins from 9 different mouse tissues (brain, heart, lung, liver, small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, kidney, and spleen). We further demonstrate an optimized protocol for rapid isolation of IF proteins by using lysing matrix and automated homogenization of different mouse tissues. The automated protocol is useful for profiling IFs in experiments with high sample volume (such as in disease models involving multiple animals and experimental groups). The resulting samples can be utilized for various downstream analyses, including mass spectrometry-based PTM profiling. Utilizing these methods, we provide new data to show that IF proteins in different mouse tissues (brain and liver) undergo parallel changes with respect to their expression levels and PTMs during aging.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/55655DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5603907PMC
May 2017

Ethanol and Acetaminophen Synergistically Induce Hepatic Aggregation and TCH346-Insensitive Nuclear Translocation of GAPDH.

PLoS One 2016 11;11(8):e0160982. Epub 2016 Aug 11.

Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109, United States of America.

The glycolytic enzyme glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) signals during cellular stress via several post-translational modifications that change its folding properties, protein-protein interactions and sub-cellular localization. We examined GAPDH properties in acute mouse liver injury due to ethanol and/or acetaminophen (APAP) treatment. Synergistic robust and time-dependent nuclear accumulation and aggregation of GAPDH were observed only in combined, but not individual, ethanol/APAP treatments. The small molecule GAPDH-targeting compound TCH346 partially attenuated liver damage possibly via mitochondrial mechanisms, and independent of nuclear accumulation and aggregation of GAPDH. These findings provide a novel potential mechanism for hepatotoxicity caused by combined alcohol and acetaminophen exposure.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0160982PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4981434PMC
August 2017

Synovial joints: from development to homeostasis.

Curr Osteoporos Rep 2015 Feb;13(1):41-51

Department of Pediatrics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 109 Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-7039, USA,

Synovial joint morphogenesis occurs through the condensation of mesenchymal cells into a non-cartilaginous region known as the interzone and the specification of progenitor cells that commit to the articular fate. Although several signaling molecules are expressed by the interzone, the mechanism is poorly understood. For treatments of cartilage injuries, it is critical to discover the presence of joint progenitor cells in adult tissues and their expression gene pattern. Potential stem cell niches have been found in different joint regions, such as the surface zone of articular cartilage, synovium, and groove of Ranvier. Inherited joint malformations as well as joint-degenerating conditions are often associated with other skeletal defects and may be seen as the failure of morphogenic factors to establish the correct microenvironment in cartilage and bone. Therefore, exploring how joints form can help us understand how cartilage and bone are damaged and develop drugs to reactivate this developing mechanism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11914-014-0247-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4306636PMC
February 2015

Decoy receptor CXCR7 modulates adrenomedullin-mediated cardiac and lymphatic vascular development.

Dev Cell 2014 Sep;30(5):528-40

Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA; Department of Genetics, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA. Electronic address:

Atypical 7-transmembrane receptors, often called decoy receptors, act promiscuously as molecular sinks to regulate ligand bioavailability and consequently temper the signaling of canonical G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) pathways. Loss of mammalian CXCR7, the most recently described decoy receptor, results in postnatal lethality due to aberrant cardiac development and myocyte hyperplasia. Here, we provide the molecular underpinning for this proliferative phenotype by demonstrating that the dosage and signaling of adrenomedullin (Adm, gene; AM, protein)-a mitogenic peptide hormone required for normal cardiovascular development-is tightly controlled by CXCR7. To this end, Cxcr7(-/-) mice exhibit gain-of-function cardiac and lymphatic vascular phenotypes that can be reversed upon genetic depletion of adrenomedullin ligand. In addition to identifying a biological ligand accountable for the phenotypes of Cxcr7(-/-) mice, these results reveal a previously underappreciated role for decoy receptors as molecular rheostats in controlling the timing and extent of GPCR-mediated cardiac and vascular development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2014.07.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166507PMC
September 2014

Fetal-derived adrenomedullin mediates the innate immune milieu of the placenta.

J Clin Invest 2013 Jun 1;123(6):2408-20. Epub 2013 May 1.

Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.

The remodeling of maternal uterine spiral arteries (SAs) is an essential process for ensuring low-resistance, high-capacitance blood flow to the growing fetus. Failure of SAs to remodel is causally associated with preeclampsia, a common and life-threatening complication of pregnancy that is harmful to both mother and fetus. Here, using both loss-of-function and gain-of-function genetic mouse models, we show that expression of the pregnancy-related peptide adrenomedullin (AM) by fetal trophoblast cells is necessary and sufficient to promote appropriate recruitment and activation of maternal uterine NK (uNK) cells to the placenta and ultimately facilitate remodeling of maternal SAs. Placentas that lacked either AM or its receptor exhibited reduced fetal vessel branching in the labyrinth, failed SA remodeling and reendothelialization, and markedly reduced numbers of maternal uNK cells. In contrast, overexpression of AM caused a reversal of these phenotypes with a concomitant increase in uNK cell content in vivo. Moreover, AM dose-dependently stimulated the secretion of numerous chemokines, cytokines, and MMPs from uNK cells, which in turn induced VSMC apoptosis. These data identify an essential function for fetal-derived factors in the maternal vascular adaptation to pregnancy and underscore the importance of exploring AM as a biomarker and therapeutic agent for preeclampsia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI67039DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3668816PMC
June 2013

Adrenomedullin gene dosage correlates with tumor and lymph node lymphangiogenesis.

FASEB J 2013 Feb 25;27(2):590-600. Epub 2012 Oct 25.

Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599 USA.

Adrenomedullin (AM) is a potent lymphangiogenic factor that promotes lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC) proliferation through a pharmacologically tractable G-protein-coupled receptor. Numerous types of human cancers have increased levels of AM; however, the functional consequences of this fact have not been characterized. Therefore, we evaluated whether modulating adrenomedullin (Adm) gene dosage within tumor cells affects lymphangiogenesis. Murine Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells that overexpress or underexpress Adm were injected subcutaneously into C57BL/6 mice, and tumors were evaluated for growth and vascularization. A dosage range from ∼10 to 200% of wild-type Adm expression did not affect LLC proliferation in vitro or in vivo, nor did it affect angiogenesis. Notably, the dosage of Adm markedly and significantly influenced tumor lymphangiogenesis. Reduced Adm expression in tumors decreased the proliferation of LECs and the number of lymphatic vessels, while elevated tumor Adm expression led to enlarged lymphatic vessels. Moreover, overexpression of Adm in tumors induced sentinel lymph node lymphangiogenesis and led to an increased incidence of Ki67-positive foci within the lung. These data show that tumor-secreted AM is a critical factor for driving both tumor and lymph node lymphangiogenesis. Thus, pharmacological targeting of AM signaling may provide a new avenue for inhibition of tumor lymphangiogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.12-214080DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3545524PMC
February 2013

Characteristics of multi-organ lymphangiectasia resulting from temporal deletion of calcitonin receptor-like receptor in adult mice.

PLoS One 2012 17;7(9):e45261. Epub 2012 Sep 17.

Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

Adrenomedullin (AM) and its receptor complexes, calcitonin receptor-like receptor (Calcrl) and receptor activity modifying protein 2/3, are highly expressed in lymphatic endothelial cells and are required for embryonic lymphatic development. To determine the role of Calcrl in adulthood, we used an inducible Cre-loxP system to temporally and ubiquitously delete Calcrl in adult mice. Following tamoxifen injection, Calcrl(fl/fl)/CAGGCre-ER™ mice rapidly developed corneal edema and inflammation that was preceded by and persistently associated with dilated corneoscleral lymphatics. Lacteals and submucosal lymphatic capillaries of the intestine were also dilated, while mesenteric collecting lymphatics failed to properly transport chyle after an acute Western Diet, culminating in chronic failure of Calcrl(fl/fl)/CAGGCre-ER™ mice to gain weight. Dermal lymphatic capillaries were also dilated and chronic edema challenge confirmed significant and prolonged dermal lymphatic insufficiency. In vivo and in vitro imaging of lymphatics with either genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of AM signaling revealed markedly disorganized lymphatic junctional proteins ZO-1 and VE-cadherin. The maintenance of AM signaling during adulthood is required for preserving normal lymphatic permeability and function. Collectively, these studies reveal a spectrum of lymphatic defects in adult Calcrl(fl/fl)/CAGGCre-ER™ mice that closely recapitulate the clinical symptoms of patients with corneal, intestinal and peripheral lymphangiectasia.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0045261PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3444480PMC
February 2013

Effect of genetic deletion of the vanilloid receptor TRPV1 on the expression of Substance P in sensory neurons of mice with adjuvant-induced arthritis.

Neuropeptides 2010 Aug 19;44(4):293-7. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.

The neuropeptide Substance P (SP), expressed by nociceptive sensory afferents in joints, plays an important role in the pathogenesis of arthritis. Capsaicin causes neurons in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) to release SP from their central and peripheral axons, suggesting a functional link between SP and the capsaicin receptor, the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1). The expression of both TRPV1 and SP have been reported to increase in several models of arthritis but the specific involvement of TRPV1-expressing articular afferents that can release SP is not completely understood. We here wanted to ascertain whether the increase in the number of SP-positive primary afferents in arthritis may be affected by genetic deletion of TRPV1. For this, we used immunohistochemistry to quantify the expression of SP in primary afferent neurons in wild-type mice (WT) vs. TRPV1-knockout (KO) mice with adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA). We found that the expression of SP in DRG (1) increased significantly over naïve level in both WT and KO mice 3 weeks after AIA, (2) was significantly higher in KO mice than in WT mice in naïve mice and 2-3 weeks after AIA, (3) was significantly higher on the side of AIA than on the contralateral, vehicle-injected side at all time points in WT mice, but not in KO mice, and (4) increased predominantly in small-size neurons in KO mice and in small- and medium-size neurons in WT mice. Since the size distribution of SP-positive DRG neurons in arthritic TRPV1-KO mice was not significantly different from that in naïve mice, we speculate that the increased expression of SP is unlikely to reflect recruitment of A-fiber primary afferents and that the higher expression of SP in KO mice may represent a plastic change to compensate for the missing receptor in a major sensory circuit.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.npep.2010.02.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2879442PMC
August 2010

Influence of the vanilloid receptor TRPV1 on the activation of spinal cord glia in mouse models of pain.

Exp Neurol 2009 Dec 6;220(2):383-90. Epub 2009 Oct 6.

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.

Although activation of spinal glia has been implicated in the development of pathological pain, the mechanisms underlying glial activation are not fully understood. One such mechanism may be triggered by reaction to neuroactive substances released from central axons of sensory afferents. The vanilloid receptor TRPV1, a nonselective cation channel in nociceptive sensory afferents, mediates the release of neurotransmitters, such as glutamate and CGRP in the dorsal horn, which can subsequently activate glia. To test the hypothesis that activation of spinal glia is mediated, at least in part, by TRPV1, we studied the expression of markers for microglia (ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1, Iba1) and astrocytes (glial fibrillary acidic protein, GFAP) in the spinal cord of TRPV1 knockout mice (KO) vs. wild-type mice (WT) in models of acute (intraplantar capsaicin), inflammatory (adjuvant-induced arthritis, AIA), and neuropathic pain (partial sciatic nerve ligation, PSNL). We found that (i) naïve KO mice had denser immunostaining for both Iba1 and GFAP than naive WT mice; (ii) the immunostaining for Iba1 increased significantly in treated mice, compared to naïve mice, 3 days after capsaicin and 7-14 days after AIA or PSNL, and was significantly greater in WT than in KO mice 3 days after capsaicin, 7-14 days after AIA, and 7 days after PSNL; and iii) the immunostaining for GFAP increased significantly in treated mice, compared to naïve mice, 3 days after capsaicin and 14-21 days after AIA or PSNL, and was significantly greater in WT than in KO mice 14 days after AIA or PSNL. Our results suggest that TRPV1 plays a role in the activation of spinal glia in mice with nociceptive, inflammatory, and neuropathic pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2009.09.030DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2784271PMC
December 2009

Increased expression of CGRP in sensory afferents of arthritic mice--effect of genetic deletion of the vanilloid receptor TRPV1.

Neuropeptides 2008 Oct-Dec;42(5-6):551-6. Epub 2008 Sep 11.

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of North Carolina, CB# 7090, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.

The neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), expressed by nociceptive sensory afferents in joints, is an important mediator in the pathogenesis of arthritis. Capsaicin causes neurons in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) to release CGRP from their central and/or peripheral axons, suggesting a functional link between CGRP and the capsaicin receptor TRPV1. The expression of both TRPV1 and CGRP have been reported to increase in several models of arthritis but the specific involvement of TRPV1-expressing articular afferents that can release CGRP remains unclear. We here wanted to ascertain whether the increase in the number of CGRP-positive primary afferents during arthritis may be affected by genetic deletion of TRPV1. For this, we quantified the expression of CGRP in primary afferent neurons in DRG in wild type mice (WT) vs. TRPV1-KO mice with adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA), using immunohistochemistry. We found that the fraction of DRG neurons that were immunopositive for CGRP (1) was higher in naïve TRPV1-KO mice than in naïve WT mice, (2) increased progressively 3-21 days after induction of AIA, and (3) this increase was bilateral but significantly greater on the complete Freund's adjuvant-injected side than on the incomplete Freund's adjuvant-injected side in TRPV1-KO mice. The increased expression of CGRP in AIA may reflect a phenotypic switch of primary afferents from non-peptidergic to peptidergic and the larger increase in TRPV1-KO mice may represent a plastic change to compensate for the missing receptor in a major sensory circuit.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.npep.2008.08.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2614902PMC
February 2009

Presynaptic low- and high-affinity kainate receptors in nociceptive spinal afferents.

Pain 2006 Jan 15;120(1-2):97-105. Epub 2005 Dec 15.

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA Cell and Molecular Physiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA Neuroscience Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA Department of Physiological Sciences, University of Catania, Italy Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology I, University of Freiburg, Albertstrasse 17, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.

Presynaptic ionotropic glutamate receptors are increasingly attributed a role in the modulation of sensory input at the first synapse of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in the spinal dorsal horn. Central terminals of DRG neurons express AMPA and NMDA receptors whose activation modulates the release of glutamate, the main transmitter at these synapses. Previous work, with an antibody that recognizes all low-affinity kainate receptor subunits (GluR5, 6, 7), provided microscopic evidence of presynaptic kainate receptors in unidentified primary afferent terminals in superficial laminae of the spinal dorsal horn (Hwang SJ, Pagliardini S, Rustioni A, Valtschanoff JG. Presynaptic kainate receptors in primary afferents to the superficial laminae of the rat spinal cord. J Comp Neurol 2001; 436: pp. 275-289). We show here that, although all such subunits may be expressed in these terminals, GluR5 is the subunit most readily detectable at presynaptic sites in sections processed for immunocytochemistry. We also show that the high-affinity kainate receptor subunits KA1 and KA2 are expressed in central terminals of DRG neurons and are co-expressed with low-affinity receptor subunits in the same terminals. Quantitative data show that kainate-expressing DRG neurons are about six times more likely to express the P2X(3) subunit of the purinergic receptor than to express substance P. Thus, nociceptive afferents that express presynaptic kainate receptors are predominantly non-peptidergic, suggesting a role for these receptors in the modulation of neuropathic rather than inflammatory pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pain.2005.10.018DOI Listing
January 2006

Ionotropic glutamate receptors are expressed in GABAergic terminals in the rat superficial dorsal horn.

J Comp Neurol 2005 May;486(2):169-78

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.

Ionotropic glutamate receptors (IGR), including NMDA, AMPA, and kainate receptors, are expressed in terminals with varied morphology in the superficial laminae (I-III) of the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Some of these terminals can be identified as endings of primary afferents, whereas others establish symmetric synapses, suggesting that they may be gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic. In the present study, we used confocal and electron microscopy of double immunostaining for GAD65, a marker for GABAergic terminals, and for subunits of IGRs to test directly whether IGRs are expressed in GABAergic terminals in laminae I-III of the dorsal horn. Although colocalization is hard to detect with confocal microscopy, electron microscopy reveals a substantial number of terminals immunoreactive for GAD65 also stained for IGRs. Among all GAD65-immunoreactive terminals counted, 37% express the NMDA receptor subunit NR1; 28% are immunopositive using an antibody for the GluR2/4 subunits of the AMPA receptor; and 20-35% are immunopositive using antibodies for the kainate receptor subunits GluR5, GluR6/7, KA1, or KA2. Terminals immunoreactive for IGR subunits and GAD65 establish symmetric synapses onto dendrites and perikarya and can be presynaptic to primary afferent terminals within both type 1 and type 2 synaptic glomeruli. Activation of presynaptic IGR may reduce neurotransmitter release. As autoreceptors in terminals of Adelta and C afferent fibers in laminae I-III, presynaptic IGRs may play a role in inhibiting nociception. As heteroreceptors in GABAergic terminals in the same laminae, on the other hand, presynaptic IGRs may have an opposite role and even contribute to central sensitization and hyperalgesia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cne.20525DOI Listing
May 2005

Suramin inhibits spinal cord microglia activation and long-term hyperalgesia induced by formalin injection.

J Pain 2004 Feb;5(1):48-55

Dental Research Center, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

Unlabelled: Previous studies in our laboratory have shown that long-term (a period of weeks) increases in pain-related behavior were correlated with the activation of spinal microglia after subcutaneous injection of formalin into the dorsal surface of 1 hind paw. The present study examined whether intrathecal delivery of suramin (a P2 receptor antagonist) blocks microglia activation and long-term hyperalgesia induced by formalin injection. Suramin was administered by using an osmotic pump attached to an intrathecal catheter. Suramin delivery (1.25 microg/kg/h) began 1 day before the formalin injection and lasted for 4 days. Rats were observed by using a modified hot plate test before and at different times after formalin injection. The spinal cord was surveyed for changes in microglia labeling as shown by OX-42 staining at different times after formalin injection. Suramin decreased both the hyperalgesic sensitivity to the thermal stimuli and microglial activation induced by formalin injection as compared to the saline-treated group. This suggests that adenosine triphosphate is one potential mediator that activates spinal cord microglia and enhances pain-related behavior in the formalin model.

Perspective: This report suggests that blocking specific spinal P2 receptors might decrease the central enhancement of pain caused by peripheral injury and inflammation. One mechanism might be by blocking the activation of spinal microglia. Thus, P2 antagonists might have therapeutic usefulness in certain pain conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2003.09.006DOI Listing
February 2004

The effect of fentanyl on c-fos expression in the trigeminal brainstem complex produced by pulpal heat stimulation in the ferret.

Pain 1999 Aug;82(2):207-215

Dental Research Center, Room 109, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7455, USA Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7455, USA Institution of Dentistry, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.

We have previously shown that Fos-like immunoreactivity (Fos-LI) is evoked in the brainstem of ferrets following stimulation of pulpal A delta and C fibers originating from the maxillary canine. This study evaluated the effects of the mu-opioid receptor agonist fentanyl on Fos expression evoked by noxious thermal stimulation of the right maxillary and mandibular canines in pentobarbital/chloral hydrate anesthetized adult male ferrets. Pulpal heating evoked Fos expression in two distinct regions of the spinal trigeminal nuclear complex: the transitional region between subnucleus interpolaris and caudalis (Vi/Vc) and within the subnucleus caudalis (Vc). More Fos positive cells were expressed in both regions ipsilateral to the site of stimulation compared with the contralateral side (P < 0.05, ANOVA). Pretreatment with fentanyl significantly and dose-dependently suppressed the number of Fos positive cells in both the Vi/Vc transitional region and Vc (P < 0.05, ANOVA). The suppressive effect of fentanyl on Fos expression was blocked by the intravenous administration of naloxone, an opioid antagonist, indicating a specific opioid receptor effect. In addition, opioid receptor antagonism with naloxone alone enhanced Fos expression in Vi/Vc and Vc in response to heat stimulation. The administration of naloxone without heat stimulation failed to evoke Fos expression in Vi/ Vc and Vc. These findings suggest that the activation of trigeminal Vi/Vc and Vc neurons by noxious dental heat stimulation is controlled by a naloxone sensitive endogenous opioid system as indicated by Fos expression. Collectively, these results suggest that neuronal populations in Vi/Vc and Vc regions may contribute to pain responses to noxious dental stimulation and these responses can be modulated by both endogenous and exogenous opioids.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0304-3959(99)00046-9DOI Listing
August 1999