SFN Poster of the Year 2005

Awarded by ATS at Society for Neuroscience (SFN) Washington, D.C. • November 12-16, 2005

Be sure to check out the cover article contributed by Dr. Lai in our Targeting Trends newsletter (First Quarter, 2006).

W.Zhang*; S.E.Gardell; Y.Xie; M.Luo; N.E.Rance; T.W.Vanderah; F.Porreca; J.Lai
featuring IT-12 Dermorphin-SAP, IT-31 CCK-SAP (Poster)

Pain transmission can be modulated by descending input to the spinal dorsal horn from the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM). RVM neurons that facilitate nociception are termed “ON-cells”, which are inhibited by mu-opioids, suggesting that they express opioid mu receptors (MOR). Focal application of cholecystokinin (CCK8(s)) into the RVM elicits acute thermal and tactile hypersensitivity and induces ON-cell activity. In situ hybridization using riboprobes for either rat MOR or rat cholecystokinin type-2 receptor (CCK-2) confirms the expression of these receptors in the RVM. Pretreatment with a toxin conjugate, CCK8(s)-saporin results in a significant loss of CCK-2 positive cells in the RVM, concomitant with a blockade of CCK8(s) induced hyperalgesia. The pretreatment also significantly reduces the number of neurons labeled for MOR in the RVM, suggesting that MOR and CCK-2 may be co-localized in some RVM cells. Consistent with these data, similar pretreatment with the toxin conjugate, dermorphin-saporin, which selectively targets MOR expressing neurons, significantly reduces the number of MOR labeled cells in the RVM, blocks RVM CCK8(s) induced hyperalgesia and reduces the number of CCK-2 positive cells in the RVM. In situ hybridization using 35S-labeled CCK-2 riboprobes and Digoxigenin-labeled MOR riboprobes shows that over 80% of labeled RVM neurons co-express both MOR and CCK-2, ~15% express only CCK-2, and very few cells express only MOR. These findings represent the first direct demonstration of the phenotype of pain facilitatory neurons in the RVM. Together with previous studies showing that RVM CCK-2 antagonists reverse nerve injury-induced pain, this phenotype provides strong support for the view that endogenous CCK is a critical mediator of the descending pain facilitation, particularly in the maintenance of experimental neuropathic pain.

Support Contributed By: NIDCR R01 DE016458

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