Peripheral neuropathic pain affects over 3.8 million in the US and is one of the most challenging forms of chronic pain to manage, primarily because the underlying physiological and molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. A better understanding of basic mechanisms underlying pain will lead to the development of novel pain therapies. Stimulus-evoked pain is initiated in primary afferent fibers that remain intact after nerve injury, but little is known about functional changes that occur in intact, adjacent neurons to natural heat or mechanical stimuli after injury. Therefore, an overall goal of this proposal is to define functional changes in intact cutaneous primary afferent neurons that contribute to peripheral neuropathic pain. The Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) receptor is a fundamental molecular integrator of physical and chemical, external and endogenous stimuli for cutaneous afferent neurons. TRPV1 unequivocally contributes to inflammatory heat hyperalgesia, but far less is known about the role(s) of TRPV1 in nerve injury pain. Several lines of preliminary data from my laboratory and others strongly suggest that TRPV1 contributes to both the heat hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia that accompanies nerve injury. Therefore, this proposal will test the overall hypothesis that TRPV1 plays a role in nerve injury- induced pain behavior by contributing to the sensitization of adjacent intact primary afferent neurons to heat and mechanical stimuli and the expression of spontaneous activity following nerve injury. By using behavioral assays and electrophysiological recording techniques at the soma and terminal of the cutaneous sensory neuron, and by conducting parallel experiments in wild type mice treated with a novel, highly selective TRPV1 antagonist and in TRPV1 null mice, we will test the following three specific hypotheses: 1) TRPV1 contributes to nerve injury-induced heat and mechanical behavioral hypersensitivity;2) TRPV1 contributes to nerve injury-induced heat sensitization of intact cutaneous primary afferent neurons at the level of the nerve terminal and the soma;3) TRPV1 contributes to nerve injury-induced spontaneous activity and mechanical sensitization of intact cutaneous afferent neurons. Understanding the role of TRPV1 in nerve injury-induced pain behavior sensitization of primary sensory neurons will contribute to the development and use of novel TRPV1 antagonists in patients with neuropathic pain.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
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Somatosensory and Chemosensory Systems Study Section (SCS)
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Porter, Linda L
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Medical College of Wisconsin
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
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