Musculoskeletal pain resulting from tissue ischemia with reperfusion is a major health issue that affects millions of people in the United States. Peripheral ischemia/ reperfusion occurs in blood disorders like sickle cell disease, and in cardiovascular disorders such as peripheral vascular disease. Ischemia/ reperfusion is also thought to be the underlying cause of complex regional pain syndrome. While much is known about the functional properties and plasticity of cutaneous nociceptors following peripheral injuries and how these fibers contribute to pain, relatively little is known about the functional properties of group III and IV muscle afferents and their role in muscle pain development. The major goal of this proposal is to determine the molecular mechanisms of muscle afferent sensitization that may underlie muscle pain during ischemia and after tissue reperfusion. We hypothesize that these distinct phases cause differential changes in heat, mechanical and chemo-sensitivity in muscle afferents, which are mediated by upregulation of purinergic receptors during ischemia and acid sensing ion channels after reperfusion leading to muscle pain. In order to increase our knowledge of muscle afferents, we developed a novel ex vivo forepaw muscle, median &ulnar nerves, dorsal root ganglion (DRG), spinal cord recording preparation that enables us to comprehensively phenotype these afferents in mouse. We are also able to analyze the central anatomy, and the neurochemical or molecular phenotypes of these afferents using combinations of ex vivo recording with immunocytochemical and single cell RT-PCR analyses.
In Specific Aim 1, we will determine if upregulation of purinergic receptors, P2Y1 and P2X5, regulate the observed changes in heat and chemosensitivity in muscle afferents, respectively during ischemia using in vivo siRNA-mediated knockdown of these genes in single peripheral nerves in conjunction with ex vivo recording preparations. Next, in Specific Aim 2, we will utilize a similar approach to SA1 except we will determine if upregulation of ASIC1 and ASIC3 regulate the novel changes in mechanical and metabolite responses in muscle afferents, respectively after transient ischemia with tissue reperfusion. Finally, in Specific Aim 3, we will determine if upregulation of P2Y1 and P2X5 regulate muscle pain during ischemia while upregulation of ASIC1 and ASIC3 regulate muscle pain after reperfusion by analyzing the effects of receptor knockdown on recognized muscle pain behavior tests between these two phases. This study will enable us to characterize the changes in both non-nociceptive and nociceptive muscle afferents after ischemia/ reperfusion and identify unique mechanisms associated with muscle afferent sensitization that underlie muscle pain development. This may lead to the formulation of more appropriate treatments for musculoskeletal pain associated with ischemia/ reperfusion that target the proper pain receptor(s) or primary afferent subpopulation(s).
The results of the proposed experiments will significantly enhance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying sensory neuron responses and hopefully provide novel information for use in the development of new avenues of research and therapies for musculoskeletal pain and/ or altered cardiovascular reflexes associated with ischemia/ reperfusion. The information obtained from these novel studies will allow us to better understand the functional implications of sensitization in specific subpopulations of muscle sensory neurons and the role they play in the development of pain states.