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J Neurophysiol. 2010 Nov;104(5):2741-8. doi: 10.1152/jn.00709.2010. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

The sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor, S1PR₁, plays a prominent but not exclusive role in enhancing the excitability of sensory neurons.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Medicine, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) through its interaction with a family of G protein-coupled receptors (S1PR) is proving to have a significant impact on the activation of a variety of cell types, most notably those cells mediating the inflammatory response. Previously, we showed that S1P enhanced the excitability of small diameter sensory neurons, and mRNA for S1PR(1-4) was expressed in sensory neurons. These initial findings did not determine which S1PR subtype(s) mediated the increased excitability. Here, we report that exposure to the selective S1PR(1) agonist, SEW2871, produced a significant increase in excitability of some, but not all, sensory neurons. To further examine the role of S1PR(1), neurons were treated with siRNA targeted to S1PR(1). siRNA reduced S1PR(1) protein expression by 75% and blocked the sensitization produced by SEW2871, although some neurons remained responsive to subsequent exposure to S1P. Treatment with scramble siRNA did not alter S1PR(1) expression. Recordings from siRNA- and scramble-treated neurons suggested three distinct populations based on their sensitivities to SEW2871 and S1P. Approximately 50% of the neurons exhibited a significant increase in excitability after exposure to SEW2871 and subsequent S1P produced no additional increase; ∼25% were not affected by SEW2871 but S1P significantly increased excitability; and ∼25% of the neurons were not sensitized by either SEW2871 or S1P. RT-PCR measurements obtained from single neurons showed that 50% of the small diameter neurons expressed the mRNA for S1PR(1). These results indicate that S1PR(1) plays a prominent, although not exclusive, role in mediating the enhancement of excitability produced by S1P.

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