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Neurosci Lett. 2008 Apr 4;434(3):293-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2008.01.070. Epub 2008 Feb 6.

TNF-alpha differentially modulates ion channels of nociceptive neurons.

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Institut für Physiologie, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Hufelandstrasse 55, 45122 Essen, Germany.


Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is a proinflammatory cytokine involved in the development and maintenance of inflammatory and neuropathic pain conditions. The mechanisms by which TNF-alpha elicits pain behavior are still incompletely understood. Numerous studies suggest that TNF-alpha sensitizes primary afferent neurons. Most recently, it was shown that TNF-alpha induced an enhancement of TTX-R Na(+) current in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells. In the present study, we have tested the effect of acute application of TNF-alpha on voltage-gated potassium, calcium and sodium channel currents as well as its influence on membrane conductance in isolated rat DRG neurons. We report that voltage-gated potassium channel currents of nociceptive DRG neurons are not influenced by TNF-alpha (100 ng/ml), while voltage-gated calcium channel currents were decreased voltage-dependently by -7.73+/-6.01% (S.D.), and voltage-activated sodium channels currents were increased by +5.62+/-4.27%, by TNF-alpha. In addition, TNF-alpha induced a significant increase in IV ramps at a potential of +20 mV, which did not exist when the experiments were conducted in a potassium-free solution, indicating that this effect is mainly the result of a change in potassium conductance. These different actions of TNF-alpha might help to explain how it sensitizes primary afferent neurons after nerve injury and thus facilitates pain.

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