Analgesic effect of gastrin-releasing peptide in the dorsal horn.
ABSTRACT: Itch and pain are both unpleasant, but they are discrete sensations. Both of these sensations are transmitted by C-fibers and processed in laminae I-II of the dorsal horn. To examine whether pruriception modulates pain, we first confirmed the activation of cells in the itch-related circuits that were positive for gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) and GRP receptor (GRPR) using a paw formalin injection model. This pain model with typical biphasic pain behavior increased c-Fos but did not affect the expressions of GRP and GRPR mRNAs in the dorsal horn. Using c-Fos expression as a marker for activated cells, we confirmed that formalin injection increased the number of cells double-labeled for c-Fos and GRP or GRPR in the dorsal horn. The emergence of these neurons indicates the activation of itch-related circuits by acute pain signals. The effect of an antagonist for a GRPR was examined in the paw formalin injection model. Intrathecal chronic antagonization of spinal GRPR enhanced the onset of phase II of paw formalin injection-induced pain behavior. Exogenous intrathecal GRP infusion to the paw-formalin injection model not only showed significant reduction of pain behavior but also increased c-Fos in the inhibitory neurons in the dorsal horn. The anti-nociceptive effect of spinal GRP infusion was observed in the peripheral inflammation model (complete Freund's adjuvant injection model). In this study we suggest that painful stimuli activated itch-related neuronal circuits and uncovered the spinal activation of the itch-induced analgesic effect on acute and established inflammatory pain.
Project description:Gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) receptor-expressing (GRPR)<sup>+</sup> neurons have a central role in the spinal transmission of itch. Because their fundamental regulatory mechanisms are not yet understood, it is important to determine how such neurons are excited and integrate itch sensation. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms for the activation of itch-responsive GRPR<sup>+</sup> neurons in the spinal dorsal horn (SDH). GRPR<sup>+</sup> neurons expressed the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (AMPAR) containing the GluR2 subunit. In mice, peripherally elicited histaminergic and non-histaminergic itch was prevented by intrathecal (i.t.) administration of the AMPAR antagonist NBQX, which was consistent with the fact that firing of GRPR<sup>+</sup> neurons in SDH under histaminergic and non-histaminergic itch was completely blocked by NBQX, but not by the GRPR antagonist RC-3095. Because GRP<sup>+</sup> neurons in SDH contain glutamate, we investigated the role of GRP<sup>+</sup> (GRP<sup>+</sup>/Glu<sup>+</sup>) neurons in regulating itch. Chemogenetic inhibition of GRP<sup>+</sup> neurons suppressed both histaminergic and non-histaminergic itch without affecting the mechanical pain threshold. In nonhuman primates, i.t. administration of NBQX also attenuated peripherally elicited itch without affecting the thermal pain threshold. In a mouse model of diphenylcyclopropenone (DCP)-induced contact dermatitis, GRP, GRPR, and AMPAR subunits were upregulated in SDH. DCP-induced itch was prevented by either silencing GRP<sup>+</sup> neurons or ablation of GRPR<sup>+</sup> neurons. Altogether, these findings demonstrate that GRP and glutamate cooperatively regulate GRPR<sup>+</sup> AMPAR<sup>+</sup> neurons in SDH, mediating itch sensation. GRP-GRPR and the glutamate-AMPAR system may play pivotal roles in the spinal transmission of itch in rodents and nonhuman primates.
Project description:There are sex differences in somatosensory sensitivity. Circulating estrogens appear to have a pronociceptive effect that explains why females are reported to be more sensitive to pain than males. Although itch symptoms develop during pregnancy in many women, the underlying mechanism of female-specific pruritus is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that estradiol, but not progesterone, enhances histamine-evoked scratching behavior indicative of itch in female rats. Estradiol increased the expression of the spinal itch mediator, gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP), and increased the histamine-evoked activity of itch-processing neurons that express the GRP receptor (GRPR) in the spinal dorsal horn. The enhancement of itch behavior by estradiol was suppressed by intrathecal administration of a GRPR blocker. In vivo electrophysiological analysis showed that estradiol increased the histamine-evoked firing frequency and prolonged the response of spinal GRP-sensitive neurons in female rats. On the other hand, estradiol did not affect the threshold of noxious thermal pain and decreased touch sensitivity, indicating that estradiol separately affects itch, pain, and touch modalities. Thus, estrogens selectively enhance histamine-evoked itch in females via the spinal GRP/GRPR system. This may explain why itch sensation varies with estrogen levels and provides a basis for treating itch in females by targeting GRPR.
Project description:Spinal transmission of pruritoceptive (itch) signals requires transneuronal signaling by gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) produced by a subpopulation of dorsal horn excitatory interneurons. These neurons also express the glutamatergic marker vGluT2, raising the question of why glutamate alone is insufficient for spinal itch relay. Using optogenetics together with slice electrophysiology and mouse behavior, we demonstrate that baseline synaptic coupling between GRP and GRP receptor (GRPR) neurons is too weak for suprathreshold excitation. Only when we mimicked the endogenous firing of GRP neurons and stimulated them repetitively to fire bursts of action potentials did GRPR neurons depolarize progressively and become excitable by GRP neurons. GRPR but not glutamate receptor antagonism prevented this action. Provoking itch-like behavior by optogenetic activation of spinal GRP neurons required similar stimulation paradigms. These results establish a spinal gating mechanism for itch that requires sustained repetitive activity of presynaptic GRP neurons and postsynaptic GRP signaling to drive GRPR neuron output.
Project description:<b>Aim: </b>Ample evidence indicates that gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (GRPR)-expressing neurons play a critical role in the transmission of acute itch. However, the pathophysiology of spinal mechanisms underlying intractable itch such as psoriasis remains unclear. In this study, we aimed to determine whether itch-responsive GRPR<sup>+</sup> neurons contribute to the spinal transmission of imiquimod (IMQ)-induced psoriatic itch.<br><br><b>Methods: </b>To generate a psoriasis model, C57BL/6J mice received a daily topical application of 5% IMQ cream on their shaved back skin for 7-10 consecutive days. GRP<sup>+</sup> neurons were inhibited using Cre-dependent expression of Gi-designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs), while GRPR<sup>+</sup> neurons were ablated by intrathecal administration of bombesin-saporin.<br><br><b>Results: </b>Repeated topical application of IMQ elicited psoriasis-like dermatitis and scratching behaviors. The mRNA expression levels of GRP and GRPR were upregulated in the cervical spinal dorsal horn (SDH) on days 7 and 10 after IMQ application. Either chemogenetic silencing of GRP<sup>+</sup> neurons by Gi-DREADD or ablation of GRPR<sup>+</sup> neurons significantly attenuated IMQ-induced scratching behaviors.<br><br><b>Conclusion: </b>The GRP-GRPR system might be enhanced in the SDH, and itch-responsive GRPR<sup>+</sup> neurons largely contribute to intractable itch in a mouse model of psoriasis.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Ethyl pyruvate (EP) possesses anti-inflammatory activity. However, the potential anti-nociceptive value of EP for the treatment of the inflammatory nociception is largely unknown. We investigated whether EP could have any anti-nociceptive effect on inflammatory pain, after systemic administration of EP (10, 50, and 100 mg/kg, i.p.), 1 hour before formalin (5%, 50 ?l) injection into the plantar surface of the hind paws of rats.<h4>Results</h4>EP significantly decreased formalin-induced nociceptive behavior during phase II, the magnitude of paw edema, and the activation of c-Fos in L4-L5 spinal dorsal horn. EP also attenuated the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in the neurons of L4-L5 spinal dorsal horn after formalin injection. Interestingly, the i.t. administration of PD98059, an ERK upstream kinase (MEK) inhibitor, completely blocked the formalin-induced inflammatory nociceptive responses.<h4>Conclusions</h4>These results demonstrate that EP may effectively inhibit formalin-induced inflammatory nociception via the inhibition of neuronal ERK phosphorylation in the spinal dorsal horn, indicating its therapeutic potential in suppressing acute inflammatory pain.
Project description:Gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) is a spinal itch transmitter expressed by a small population of dorsal horn interneurons (GRP neurons). The contribution of these neurons to spinal itch relay is still only incompletely understood, and their potential contribution to pain-related behaviors remains controversial. Here, we have addressed this question in a series of experiments performed in GRP::cre and GRP::eGFP transgenic male mice. We combined behavioral tests with neuronal circuit tracing, morphology, chemogenetics, optogenetics, and electrophysiology to obtain a more comprehensive picture. We found that GRP neurons form a rather homogeneous population of central cell-like excitatory neurons located in lamina II of the superficial dorsal horn. Multicolor high-resolution confocal microscopy and optogenetic experiments demonstrated that GRP neurons receive direct input from MrgprA3-positive pruritoceptors. Anterograde HSV-based neuronal tracing initiated from GRP neurons revealed ascending polysynaptic projections to distinct areas and nuclei in the brainstem, midbrain, thalamus, and the somatosensory cortex. Spinally restricted ablation of GRP neurons reduced itch-related behaviors to different pruritogens, whereas their chemogenetic excitation elicited itch-like behaviors and facilitated responses to several pruritogens. By contrast, responses to painful stimuli remained unaltered. These data confirm a critical role of dorsal horn GRP neurons in spinal itch transmission but do not support a role in pain.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Dorsal horn gastrin-releasing peptide neurons serve a well-established function in the spinal transmission of pruritic (itch) signals. A potential role in the transmission of nociceptive (pain) signals has remained controversial. Our results provide further support for a critical role of dorsal horn gastrin-releasing peptide neurons in itch circuits, but we failed to find evidence supporting a role in pain.
Project description:To investigate the effects of nitric oxide (NO) with different doses on modulation of inflammatory pain, and its possible mechanisms.NO precursor L-arginine (L-Arg) was intrathecally administered in rats at a dose of 10 microg per day (low dose group) or 250 microg per day (high dose group) for a succession of 4 d. Normal saline was applied as a control. Then the rats were subcutaneously injected with formalin (100 microL, 2%) into the right hind paw, and the nociceptive behavioral responses within 1 h were observed. At 4 h after formalin injection, neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) and c-Fos expression in spinal dorsal horn was examined with immunocytochemistry method.The subcutaneous injection of formalin evoked biphasic behaviors of licking or biting the injected paw. There was no difference in acute phase of formalin test among the 3 groups, while in tonic phase, the licking and biting time, and the protein levels of nNOS and c-Fos in spinal dorsal horn were significantly decreased in low dose group and increased in high dose group, compared with those in control group.These results suggest that multiple administration of NO with different doses may produce different effects. On one hand, the low dose of NO can induce antinociception. On the other hand, the high dose of NO can induce pronociception.
Project description:Dorsal horn gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (GRPR) neurons have a central role in itch transmission. Itch signaling has been suggested to be controlled by an inhibitory network in the spinal dorsal horn, as increased scratching behavior can be induced by pharmacological disinhibition or ablation of inhibitory interneurons, but the direct influence of the inhibitory tone on the GRPR neurons in the itch pathway have not been explored. Here we have investigated spinal GRPR neurons through in vitro and bioinformatical analysis. Electrophysiological recordings revealed that GRPR neurons receive local spontaneous excitatory inputs transmitted by glutamate and inhibitory inputs by glycine and GABA, which were transmitted either by separate glycinergic and GABAergic synapses or by glycine and GABA co-releasing synapses. Additionally, all GRPR neurons received both glycine- and GABA-induced tonic currents. The findings show a complex inhibitory network, composed of synaptic and tonic currents that gates the excitability of GRPR neurons, which provides direct evidence for the existence of an inhibitory tone controlling spontaneous discharge in an itch-related neuronal network in the spinal cord. Finally, calcium imaging revealed increased levels of neuronal activity in Grpr-Cre neurons upon application of somatostatin, which provides direct in vitro evidence for disinhibition of these dorsal horn interneurons.
Project description:There are substantial disagreements about the expression of gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) in sensory neurons and whether GRP antibody cross-reacts with substance P (SP). These concerns necessitate a critical revaluation of GRP expression using additional approaches. Here, we show that a widely used GRP antibody specifically recognizes GRP but not SP. In the spinal cord of mice lacking SP (Tac1KO), the expression of not only GRP but also other peptides, notably neuropeptide Y (NPY), is significantly diminished. We detectedGrpmRNA in dorsal root ganglias using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, in situ hybridization and RNA-seq. We demonstrated thatGrpmRNA and protein are upregulated in dorsal root ganglias, but not in the spinal cord, of mice with chronic itch. Few GRP(+)immunostaining signals were detected in spinal sections following dorsal rhizotomy and GRP(+)cell bodies were not detected in dissociated dorsal horn neurons. Ultrastructural analysis further shows that substantially more GRPergic fibers form synaptic contacts with gastrin releasing peptide receptor-positive (GRPR(+)) neurons than SPergic fibers. Our comprehensive study demonstrates that a majority of GRPergic fibers are of primary afferent origin. A number of factors such as low copy number ofGrptranscripts, small percentage of cells expressingGrp, and the use of an eGFP GENSAT transgenic as a surrogate for GRP protein have contributed to the controversy. Optimization of experimental procedures facilitates the specific detection of GRP expression in dorsal root ganglia neurons.
Project description:Spinal opioid-induced itch, a prevalent side effect of pain management, has been proposed to result from pain inhibition. We now report that the ?-opioid receptor (MOR) isoform MOR1D is essential for morphine-induced scratching (MIS), whereas the isoform MOR1 is required only for morphine-induced analgesia (MIA). MOR1D heterodimerizes with gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (GRPR) in the spinal cord, relaying itch information. We show that morphine triggers internalization of both GRPR and MOR1D, whereas GRP specifically triggers GRPR internalization and morphine-independent scratching. Providing potential insight into opioid-induced itch prevention, we demonstrate that molecular and pharmacologic inhibition of PLC?3 and IP3R3, downstream effectors of GRPR, specifically block MIS but not MIA. In addition, blocking MOR1D-GRPR association attenuates MIS but not MIA. Together, these data suggest that opioid-induced itch is an active process concomitant with but independent of opioid analgesia, occurring via the unidirectional cross-activation of GRPR signaling by MOR1D heterodimerization.