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Exp Neurol. 2006 Oct;201(2):399-406. Epub 2006 Jun 27.

Reduced expression of endothelin B receptors and mechanical hyperalgesia in experimental chronic diabetes.

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Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106-7288, USA.


Diabetic neuropathy is one of the major complications of diabetes mellitus. Small nerve fibers degenerate early in the disease, leading to symptoms ranging from hyperalgesia to loss of pain and temperature sensation. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for abnormal pain perception in diabetes have not been identified. Both type-A and type-B endothelin receptors (ETAR and ETBR, respectively) are present in sensory nerves and appear to regulate neuropathic and inflammatory pain. In this study, we compared the expression of endothelin receptors and nociceptive responses in normal and experimentally diabetic rats. Diabetic animals exhibited both an increase in the withdrawal responses to high threshold stimuli (mechanical hyperalgesia) and to light touch stimuli (tactile allodynia). Immunohistochemical and Western blot analysis revealed that diabetic rats have significantly reduced expression of ETBR in sciatic nerves, while no changes were observed in dorsal root ganglia (DRG). In contrast, the expression of ETAR in either sciatic nerves or DRG of diabetic rats was not altered. Importantly, ETBR-deficient transgenic rats showed alterations in pain perception similar to those observed in diabetic rats. These results suggest that changes in the expression of ETBR in peripheral nerve may contribute to the development of mechanical hyperalgesia and tactile allodynia in chronic diabetes.

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