Roles of isolectin B4-binding afferents in colorectal mechanical nociception

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Abstract

Isolectin B4-binding (IB4+) dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons are distinct from peptidergic DRG neurons in their terminal location in the spinal cord and respective contributions to various classes and modalities of nociception. In DRG neurons innervating the mouse colon (c-DRG neurons), the reported proportion of IB4+ population is inconsistent across studies, and little is known regarding their role in colorectal mechanonociception. To address these issues, in C57BL/6J mice, we quantified IB4+ binding after labeling c-DRG neurons with Fast Blue and examined functional consequences of ablating these neurons by IB4-conjugated saporin. Sixty-one percent of Fast Blue-labeled neurons in the L6 DRG were IB4+, and 95% of these IB4+ c-DRG neurons were peptidergic. Intrathecal administration of IB4-conjugated saporin reduced the proportion of IB4+ c-DRG neurons to 37%, which was due to the loss of c-DRG neurons showing strong to medium IB4+ intensity; c-DRG neurons with weak IB4+ intensity were spared. However, this loss altered neither nociceptive behaviors to colorectal distension nor the relative proportions of stretch-sensitive colorectal afferent classes characterized by single-fiber recordings. These findings demonstrate that more than 1 half of viscerosensory L6 c-DRG neurons in C57BL/6J mouse are IB4+ and suggest, in contrast to the reported roles of IB4+/nonpeptidergic neurons in cutaneous mechanonociception, c-DRG neurons with strong-to-medium IB4+ intensity do not play a significant role in colorectal mechanonociception.

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