Background: TRPA1, a member of the transient receptor potential (TRP) family of ion channels, has been proposed to function in diverse sensory processes, including thermosensation and pain. However, TRPA1 has not been directly implicated in stomach mechanosensation, and its contribution to acute visceral pain from this organ is unknown. Here, we investigated the expression of TRPA1 in primary sensory afferents and its involvement in visceral hypersensitivity in rats.
Methods: We examined TRPA1 expression in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG), nodose ganglion (NG), and stomach of rats using immunohistochemistry. Electromyographic responses to gastric distention (GD) were recorded from the acromiotrapezius muscle in TRPA1 knockdown rats and in control rats.
Results: TRPA1 was predominantly expressed with sensory neuropeptides in DRG and NG neurons, and in nerve fibers in the rat stomach. Gastric distention induced the activation of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) in DRG and NG neurons 2 min after stimulation, and most of phosphorylated-ERK1/2-labeled DRG neurons were TRPA1-positive neurons. Intrathecal injection of TRPA1 antisense attenuated the visceromotor response, and suppressed ERK1/2 activation in the DRG, but not NG, neurons produced by GD. Furthermore, intrathecal and intraperitoneal injections of the TRPA1 inhibitor, HC-030031, suppressed the response to noxious GD.
Conclusions: The activation of TRPA1 in DRG neurons by noxious GD may be involved in acute visceral pain. Our findings point to the potential blockade of TRPA1 in primary afferents as a new therapeutic target for the reduction of visceral hypersensitivity.
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