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Pain. 2005 Jul;116(1-2):96-108.

Enhanced thermal avoidance in mice lacking the ATP receptor P2X3.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 408 Biophysics Building, 725 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


P2X3 is an ATP-gated cation channel subtype expressed by a subpopulation of primary sensory neurons. In vivo spinal cord recordings in mice lacking P2X3 (P2X3-/-) have suggested that this protein may be important for the coding of peripheral warm stimuli. To explore this possibility more thoroughly, we examined behavioral and electrophysiological responses to thermal stimuli in P2X3-/- mice. As previously reported, recording from the spinal cord dorsal horn of anesthetized P2X3-/- mice revealed a blunted response of wide dynamic range neurons to hind paw heating. When placed in a thermal gradient, however, P2X3-/- mice exhibited an unexpectedly enhanced avoidance of both hot and cold temperatures, relative to controls. In the tail immersion test, mutant mice exhibited shorter withdrawal latencies at temperatures above and below thermoneutrality. Consistent with these changes, P2X3-/- mice exhibited enhanced induction of spinal cord c-FOS following hind paw heating to 45 degrees C. Thus, gain- and loss-of-function thermosensory phenotypes coexist in P2X3-/- mice. No changes in thermal preference were observed in wild-type mice injected subcutaneously with the P2X3 antagonist, A317491 or intrathecally with the P2X3 and P2X1 antagonist TNP-ATP. The reason for this apparent discrepancy is unclear, but we cannot exclude the possibility that compensatory events contribute, at least in part, to the P2X3-/- phenotype. Regardless, this study illustrates the utility of thermal preference assays as part of a comprehensive approach to the analysis of mouse thermosensation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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