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J Neurophysiol. 2011 Jul;106(1):211-8. doi: 10.1152/jn.00065.2011. Epub 2011 Apr 27.

Increased Na+ and K+ currents in small mouse dorsal root ganglion neurons after ganglion compression.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


We investigated the effects of chronic compression (CCD) of the L3 and L4 dorsal root ganglion (DRG) on pain behavior in the mouse and on the electrophysiological properties of the small-diameter neuronal cell bodies in the intact ganglion. CCD is a model of human radicular pain produced by intraforaminal stenosis and other disorders affecting the DRG, spinal nerve, or root. On days 1, 3, 5, and 7 after the onset of compression, there was a significant decrease from preoperative values in the threshold mechanical force required to elicit a withdrawal of the foot ipsilateral to the CCD (tactile allodynia). Whole cell patch-clamp recordings were obtained, in vitro, from small-sized somata and, for the first time, in the intact DRG. Under current clamp, CCD neurons exhibited a significantly lower rheobase compared with controls. A few CCD but no control neurons exhibited spontaneous action potentials. CCD neurons showed an increase in the density of TTX-resistant and TTX-sensitive Na(+) current. CCD neurons also exhibited an enhanced density of voltage-dependent K(+) current, due to an increase in delayed rectifier K(+) current, without a change in the transient or "A" current. We conclude that CCD in the mouse produces a model of radicular pain, as we have previously demonstrated in the rat. While the role of enhanced K(+) current remains to be elucidated, we speculate that it represents a compensatory neuronal response to reduce ectopic or aberrant levels of neuronal activity produced by the injury.

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