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Exp Neurol. 2012 May;235(1):316-25. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2012.02.013. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

P2X3-mediated peripheral sensitization of neuropathic pain in resiniferatoxin-induced neuropathy.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10051, Taiwan.


Patients suffering from sensory neuropathy due to skin denervation frequently have paradoxical manifestations of reduced nociception and neuropathic pain. However, there is a lack of satisfactory animal models to investigate these phenomena and underlying mechanisms. We developed a mouse system of neuropathy induced by resiniferatoxin (RTX), a capsaicin analog, and examined the functional significance of P2X3 receptor in neuropathic pain. From day 7 of RTX neuropathy, mice displayed mechanical allodynia (p<0.0001) and thermal hypoalgesia (p<0.0001). After RTX treatment, dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons of the peripherin type were depleted (p=0.012), while neurofilament (+) DRG neurons were not affected (p=0.62). In addition, RTX caused a shift in neuronal profiles of DRG: (1) increased in P2X3 receptor (p=0.0002) and ATF3 (p=0.0006) but (2) reduced TRPV1 (p=0.036) and CGRP (p=0.015). The number of P2X3(+)/ATF3(+) neurons was linearly correlated with mechanical thresholds (p=0.0017). The peripheral expression of P2X3 receptor in dermal nerves was accordingly increased (p=0.016), and an intraplantar injection of the P2X3 antagonists, A-317491 and TNP-ATP, relieved mechanical allodynia in a dose-dependent manner. In conclusion, RTX-induced sensory neuropathy with upregulation of P2X3 receptor for peripheral sensitization of mechanical allodynia, which provides a new therapeutic target for neuropathic pain after skin denervation.

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