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Neuron. 2002 Sep 26;36(1):57-68.

p38 MAPK activation by NGF in primary sensory neurons after inflammation increases TRPV1 levels and maintains heat hyperalgesia.

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Neural Plasticity Research Group, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02129, USA.


Peripheral inflammation induces p38 MAPK activation in the soma of C fiber nociceptors in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) after 24 hr. Inflammation also increases protein, but not mRNA levels, of the heat-gated ion channel TRPV1 (VR1) in these cells, which is then transported to peripheral but not central C fiber terminals. Inhibiting p38 activation in the DRG reduces the increase in TRPV1 in the DRG and inflamed skin and diminishes inflammation-induced heat hypersensitivity without affecting inflammatory swelling or basal pain sensitivity. p38 activation in the DRG is secondary to peripheral production of NGF during inflammation and is required for NGF-induced increases in TRPV1. The activation of p38 in the DRG following retrograde NGF transport, by increasing TRPV1 levels in nociceptor peripheral terminals in a transcription-independent fashion, contributes to the maintenance of inflammatory heat hypersensitivity.

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