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Glia. 2013 Jun;61(6):957-71. doi: 10.1002/glia.22488. Epub 2013 Mar 7.

Astrocytic TRPV1 ion channels detect blood-borne signals in the sensory circumventricular organs of adult mouse brains.

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Department of Applied Biology, Kyoto Institute of Technology, Matsugasaki, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8585, Japan.


The circumventricular organs (CVOs), including the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis (OVLT), subfornical organ (SFO), and area postrema (AP) sense a variety of blood-borne molecules because they lack typical blood-brain barrier. Though a few signaling pathways are known, it is not known how endogenous ligands for transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor 1 ion channel (TRPV1) are sensed in the CVOs. In this study, we aimed to examine whether or not astrocytic TRPV1 senses directly blood-borne molecules in the OVLT, SFO, and AP of adult mice. The reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and Western analysis revealed the expression of TRPV1 in the CVOs. Confocal microscopic immunohistochemistry further showed that TRPV1 was localized prominently at thick cellular processes of astrocytes rather than fine cellular processes and cell bodies. TRPV1-expressing cellular processes of astrocytes surrounded the vasculature to constitute dense networks. The expression of TRPV1 was also found at neuronal dendrites but not somata in the CVOs. The intravenous administration of a TRPV1 agonist resiniferatoxin (RTX) prominently induced Fos expression at astrocytes in the OVLT, SFO, and AP and neurons in adjacent related nuclei of the median preoptic nuclei (MnPO) and nucleus of the solitary tract (Sol) of wild-type but not TRPV1-knockout mice. The intracerebroventricular infusion of RTX induced Fos expression at both astrocytes and neurons in the CVOs, MnPO, and Sol. Thus, this study demonstrates that blood-borne molecules are sensed directly by astrocytic TRPV1 of the CVOs in adult mammalians.

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