Distinct TrkA and Ret modulated negative and positive neuropathic behaviors in a mouse model of resiniferatoxin-induced small fiber neuropathy

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Neurotrophic factors and their corresponding receptors play key roles in the maintenance of different phenotypic dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons, the axons of which degenerate in small fiber neuropathy, leading to various neuropathic manifestations. Mechanisms underlying positive and negative symptoms of small fiber neuropathy have not been systematically explored. This study investigated the molecular basis of these seemingly paradoxical neuropathic behaviors according to the profiles of TrkA and Ret with immunohistochemical and pharmacological interventions in a mouse model of resiniferatoxin (RTX)-induced small fiber neuropathy. Mice with RTX neuropathy exhibited thermal hypoalgesia and mechanical allodynia, reduced skin innervation, and altered DRG expression profiles with decreased TrkA(+) neurons and increased Ret(+) neurons. RTX neuropathy induced the expression of activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3), and ATF3(+) neurons were colocalized with Ret but not with TrkA (P < 0.001). As a neuroprotectant, 4-Methylcatechol (4MC) promoted skin reinnervation partially with correlated reversal of the neuropathic behaviors and altered neurochemical expression. Gambogic amide, a selective TrkA agonist, normalized thermal hypoalgesia, and GW441756, a TrkA kinase inhibitor, induced thermal hypoalgesia, which was already reversed by 4MC. Mechanical allodynia was reversed by a Ret kinase inhibitor, AST487, which induced thermal hyperalgesia in naïve mice. The activation of Ret signaling by XIB4035 induced mechanical allodynia and thermal hypoalgesia in RTX neuropathy mice in which the neuropathic behaviors were previously normalized by 4MC. Distinct neurotrophic factor receptors, TrkA and Ret, accounted for negative and positive neuropathic behaviors in RTX-induced small fiber neuropathy, respectively: TrkA for thermal hypoalgesia and Ret for mechanical allodynia and thermal hypoalgesia.

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