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J Neurosci Res. 2013 Dec;91(12):1551-62. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23280. Epub 2013 Sep 16.

Protease-activated receptor 4 activation increases the expression of calcitonin gene-related peptide mRNA and protein in dorsal root ganglion neurons.

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Department of Anatomy, Taishan Medical University, Shandong Province, Taian, China.


Accumulating evidence demonstrates that nociceptor activation evokes a rapid change in mRNA and protein levels of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Although the colocalization of CGRP and protease-activated receptor-4 (PAR4), a potent modulator of pain processing and inflammation, was detected in DRG neurons, the role of PAR4 activation in the expression of CGRP has not been investigated. In the present study, the expression of CGRP and activation (phosphorylation) of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) in rat DRG neurons were measured by immunofluorescence, real-time PCR, and Western blotting after AYPGKF-NH2 (selective PAR4-activating peptide; PAR4-AP) intraplantar injection or treatment of cultured DRG neurons. The expression of CGRP in cultured DRG neurons was also assessed after treatment with AYPGKF-NH2 with preaddition of PD98059 (an inhibitor for ERK1/2 pathway). Results showed that PAR4-AP intraplantar injection or treatment of cultured DRG neurons evoked significant increases in DRG cells displaying CGRP immunoreactivity and cytoplasmic and nuclear staining for phospho-ERK1/2 (p-ERK1/2). Percentages of total DRG neurons expressing both CGRP and PAR4 or p-ERK1/2 also increased significantly at 2 hr after PAR4-AP treatment. Real-time PCR and Western blotting showed that PAR4-AP treatment significantly increased expression of CGRP mRNA and protein levels in DRG neurons. The PAR4 activation-evoked CGRP expression both at mRNA and at protein levels was significantly inhibited after p-ERK1/2 was inhibited by PD98059. These results provide evidence that activation of PAR4 upregulates the expression of CGRP mRNA and protein levels in DRG neurons via the p-ERK1/2 signal pathway.


DRG; calcitonin gene-related peptide; immunofluorescence; p-ERK1/2; protease-activated receptor-4

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