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Neuroscience. 2011 Apr 28;180:344-52. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.01.045. Epub 2011 Feb 2.

Sex differences in the contribution of ATP-sensitive K+ channels in trigeminal ganglia under an acute muscle pain condition.

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1
Program in Neuroscience, Department of Neural and Pain Sciences, University of Maryland Baltimore School of Dentistry, 650 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.

Abstract

In this study, we examined whether functional subunits of the ATP-dependent K+ channel (KATP) are expressed in trigeminal ganglia (TG), which contains sensory neurons that innervate oral and facial structures. We also investigated whether direct activation of the KATP effectively attenuates mechanical hypersensitivity in the context of an acute orofacial muscle pain condition. The KATP expression in TG and behavioral studies were conducted in age matched male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. RT-PCR experiments showed that the mRNAs for the inwardly rectifying pore-forming subunits, Kir6.1 and Kir6.2, as well as the regulatory sulfonylurea subunits, SUR1 and SUR2, were reliably detected in TG. Subsequent western blot analysis confirmed that proteins for all four subunits are expressed in TG, and showed that Kir6.2 is expressed at a significantly higher level in male TG compared to that of female rats. This observation was confirmed by the immunohistochemical demonstration of higher percentages of Kir6 positive masseter afferents in female rats. Masseteric injection of capsaicin evokes a time dependent increase in masseter sensitivity to noxious mechanical stimulation. A specific KATP agonist, pinacidil, dose-dependently attenuated the capsaicin-induced mechanical hypersensitivity in male rats. The dose of pinacidil (20 μg) that completely blocked the capsaicin responses in male rats was ineffective in female rats regardless of their estrus phases. Only at the highest dose (300 μg) we used, pinacidil was partially effective in female rats. Similarly, another KATP agonist, diazoxide which targets different KATP subunits also showed sex specific responses in attenuating capsaicin-induced masseter hypersensitivity. These data suggested that sex differences in functional KATP expression in TG may underlie sex specific responses to KATP agonists. The present study provided novel information on sex differences in KATP expression in TG and its contribution under an orofacial muscle pain condition.

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