Facial injections of pruritogens or algogens elicit distinct behavior responses in rats and excite overlapping populations of primary sensory and trigeminal subnucleus caudalis neurons

Amanda Klein, Mirela Iodi Carstens, Earl Carstens

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49 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the present study, we investigated whether intradermal cheek injection of pruritogens or algogens differentially elicits hindlimb scratches or forelimb wipes in Sprague-Dawley rats, as recently reported in mice. We also investigated responses of primary sensory trigeminal ganglion (TG) and dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells, as well as second-order neurons in trigeminal subnucleus caudalis (Vc), to pruritic and algesic stimuli. 5-HT was the most effective chemical to elicit dose-dependent bouts of hindlimb scratches directed to the cheek, with significantly less forelimb wiping, consistent with itch. Chloroquine also elicited significant scratching but not wiping. Allyl isothiocyanate (AITC; mustard oil) elicited dose-dependent wiping with no significant scratching. Capsaicin elicited equivalent numbers of scratch bouts and wipes, suggesting a mixed itch and pain sensation. By calcium imaging, ~6% of cultured TG and DRG cells responded to 5-HT. The majority of 5-HT-sensitive cells also responded to chloroquine, AITC, and/or capsaicin, and one-third responded to histamine. Using a chemical search strategy, we identified single units in Vc that responded to intradermal cheek injection of 5-HT. Most were wide dynamic range (WDR) or nociceptive specific (NS), and a few were mechanically insensitive. The large majority additionally responded to AITC and/or capsaicin and thus were not pruritogen selective. These results suggest that primary and second-order neurons responsive to pruritogens and algogens may utilize a population coding mechanism to distinguish between itch and pain, sensations that are behaviorally manifested by distinct hindlimb scratching and forelimb wiping responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1078-1088
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Volume106
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Keywords

  • Calcium imaging
  • Itch
  • Pain
  • Scratching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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