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Neurosci Lett. 2019 Mar 29;705:14-19. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2019.03.045. [Epub ahead of print]

Impairment of tactile responses and Piezo2 channel mechanotransduction in mice following chronic vincristine treatment.

Author information

1
Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 901 19th Street South, Birmingham, AL, 35294, USA.
2
Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 901 19th Street South, Birmingham, AL, 35294, USA. Electronic address: jianguogu@uabmc.edu.

Abstract

Loss of the sense of touch or numbness in fingertips and toes is one of the earliest sensory dysfunctions in patients receiving chemotherapy with anti-cancer drugs such as vincristine. However, mechanisms underlying this chemotherapy-induced sensory dysfunction is poorly understood. Whisker hair follicles are tactile organs in non-primate mammals which are functionally equivalent to human fingertips. Here we used mouse whisker hair follicles as a model system to explore how vincristine treatment induces the loss of the sense of touch. We show that chronic treatment of mice with vincristine impaired in vivo whisker tactile behavioral responses. In vitro electrophysiological recordings made from whisker hair follicle afferent nerves showed that mechanically evoked whisker afferent impulses were significantly reduced following vincristine treatment. Furthermore, patch-clamp recordings from Merkel cells of whisker hair follicles revealed a significant reduction of mechanically activated currents via Piezo2 channels in Merkel cells. Collectively, our results suggest that Piezo2 channel dysfunction in Merkel cells contribute to the loss of the sense of touch following the chemotherapy treatment regimen with vincristine.

KEYWORDS:

Chemotherapy; Mechanoreceptors; Merkel cells; Numbness; Touch; Vincristine; Whisker hair follicles

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