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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2013 May 1;304(9):G763-72. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00466.2012. Epub 2013 Feb 28.

Neonatal colonic inflammation sensitizes voltage-gated Na(+) channels via upregulation of cystathionine β-synthetase expression in rat primary sensory neurons.

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Institute of Neuroscience, Laboratory for Translational Pain Medicine, Department of Neurobiology, Soochow University, Suzhou, Peoples Republic of China.


The pathogenesis of pain in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is poorly understood, and treatment remains difficult. We have previously reported that colon-specific dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons were hyperactive in a rat model of IBS induced by neonatal colonic inflammation (NCI). This study was designed to examine plasticity of voltage-gated Na(+) channel activities and roles for the endogenous hydrogen sulfide-producing enzyme cystathionine β-synthetase (CBS) in chronic visceral hyperalgesia. Abdominal withdrawal reflex (AWR) scores were recorded in response to graded colorectal distention in adult male rats as a measure of visceral hypersensitivity. Colon-specific DRG neurons were labeled with 1,1'-dioleyl-3,3,3',3-tetramethylindocarbocyanine methanesulfonate and acutely dissociated for measuring Na(+) channel currents. Western blot analysis was employed to detect changes in expressions of voltage-gated Na(+) (Na(V)) channel subtype 1.7, Na(V)1.8, and CBS. NCI significantly increased AWR scores when compared with age-matched controls. NCI also led to an ~2.5-fold increase in Na(+) current density in colon-specific DRG neurons. Furthermore, NCI dramatically enhanced expression of Na(V)1.7, Na(V)1.8, and CBS in colon-related DRGs. CBS was colocalized with Na(V)1.7 or -1.8 in colon-specific DRG neurons. Administration of O-(carboxymethyl)hydroxylamine hemihydrochloride (AOAA), an inhibitor for CBS, remarkably suppressed Na(+) current density and reduced expression of Na(V)1.7 and Na(V)1.8. More importantly, intraperitoneal or intrathecal application of AOAA attenuated AWR scores in NCI rats in a dose-dependent manner. These data suggest that NCI enhances Na(+) channel activity of colon DRG neurons, which is most likely mediated by upregulation of CBS expression, thus identifying a potential target for treatment for chronic visceral pain in patients with IBS.


dorsal root ganglion; hydrogen sulfide; irritable bowel syndrome; visceral pain

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