Transient, 5-HT2B receptor–mediated facilitation in neuropathic pain: Up-regulation of PKCγ and engagement of the NMDA receptor in dorsal horn neurons

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5-HT2B receptor activation promotes transient translocation of protein kinase C γ (PKCγ) and phosphorylation of NR1, subserving hyersensitivity to thermal and mechanical pain in the rat after spinal nerve ligation.

Spinal nociception can be facilitated by 5-HT2 receptors in neuropathic pain. We investigated the involvement of glutamate receptors in dorsal neuron hyperexcitation that is promoted by 5-HT2B receptor (5-HT2BR) after spinal nerve ligation (SNL) in the rat. Augmentation of C-fiber–evoked potentials by spinal superfusion with 5-HT2BR agonist BW 723C86 in nerve-ligated rats was impeded by co-administration of NMDA receptor (NMDAR) antagonist D-AP5, but not by mGluR1/5 antagonist AIDA or mGluR2/3 antagonist LY 341495. Evoked potentials were increased by cis-ACPD in nerve-injured rats, irrespective of simultaneous 5-HT2BR blockade by SB204741. In uninjured rats, NMDAR agonist cis-ACPD enhanced evoked potentials in the presence of BW 723C86 but not if administered alone or during exposure to protein kinase C γ (PKCγ) inhibitor peptide. Triple immunofluorescence labelings revealed co-localization of NMDAR and 5-HT2BR in PKCγ-expressing perikarya in lamina II neurons. As a result of SNL, PKCγ was transiently and bilaterally up-regulated in synaptic fraction from dorsal horn homogenates, peaking at day 2 and returning to basal levels by day 9. Chronic blockade of 5-HT2BR with selective antagonist SB 204741 after SNL bilaterally decreased the following: (i) PKCγ up-regulation in synaptic fraction, (ii) phosphorylation of NMDAR subunit NR1 (serine 889) in synaptic fraction, and (iii) co-localization of both PKCγ and phosphorylated NR1 with postsynaptic marker PSD-95. Chronic delivery of SB 204741 bilaterally attenuated thermal and mechanical allodynia occurring after SNL, particularly at day 2 post injury. These findings suggest that transient activation of the PKCγ/NMDAR pathway is critically involved in 5-HT2BR-mediated facilitation in the SNL model of neuropathic pain.

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