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PLoS One. 2009 Oct 29;4(10):e7596. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007596.

TRPV1 and TRPA1 mediate peripheral nitric oxide-induced nociception in mice.

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Department of Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, USA.


Nitric oxide (NO) can induce acute pain in humans and plays an important role in pain sensitization caused by inflammation and injury in animal models. There is evidence that NO acts both in the central nervous system via a cyclic GMP pathway and in the periphery on sensory neurons through unknown mechanisms. It has recently been suggested that TRPV1 and TRPA1, two polymodal ion channels that sense noxious stimuli impinging on peripheral nociceptors, are activated by NO in heterologous systems. Here, we investigate the relevance of this activation. We demonstrate that NO donors directly activate TRPV1 and TRPA1 in isolated inside-out patch recordings. Cultured primary sensory neurons display both TRPV1- and TRPA1-dependent responses to NO donors. BH4, an essential co-factor for NO production, causes activation of a subset of DRG neurons as assayed by calcium imaging, and this activation is at least partly dependent on nitric oxide synthase activity. We show that BH4-induced calcium influx is ablated in DRG neurons from TRPA1/TRPV1 double knockout mice, suggesting that production of endogenous levels of NO can activate these ion channels. In behavioral assays, peripheral NO-induced nociception is compromised when TRPV1 and TRPA1 are both ablated. These results provide genetic evidence that the peripheral nociceptive action of NO is mediated by both TRPV1 and TRPA1.

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