A simple and fast method to image calcium activity of neurons from intact dorsal root ganglia using fluorescent chemical Ca2+ indicators

Yong Chen, Li Yen M. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Chemical calcium indicators have been commonly used to monitor calcium (Ca2+) activity in cell bodies, i.e., somata, of isolated dorsal root ganglion neurons. Recent studies have shown that dorsal root ganglion somata play an essential role in soma–glia interactions and actively participate in the transmission of nociceptive signals. It is therefore desirable to develop methods to study Ca2+ activity in neurons and glia in intact dorsal root ganglia. In our previous studies, we found that incubation of intact dorsal root ganglia with acetoxymethyl dye resulted in efficient Ca2+ dye loading into glial cells but limited dye loading into neurons. Here, we introduce a useful method to load Ca2+ dyes in intact dorsal root ganglion neurons through electroporation. We found that electroporation greatly facilitated loading of Fluo-4 acetoxymethyl, Oregon green bapta-1-488 acetoxymethyl, and Fluo-4 pentapotassium salt into dorsal root ganglion neurons. In contrast, electroporation did not further facilitate dye loading into glia. Using electroporation followed by incubation of acetoxymethyl form Ca2+ dye, we can load acetoxymethyl Ca2+ dye well in both neurons and glia. With this approach, we found that inflammation induced by complete Freund’s adjuvant significantly increased the incidence of neuron–glia interactions in dorsal root ganglia. We also confirmed the actions of capsaicin and morphine on Ca2+ responses in dorsal root ganglion neurons. Thus, by promoting the loading of Ca2+ dye in neurons and glia through electroporation and incubation, Ca2+ activities in neurons and neuron–glia interactions can be well studied in intact dorsal root ganglia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMolecular pain
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Electroporation
  • calcium
  • calcium dye
  • dorsal root ganglion
  • inflammation
  • neuron–glia interaction
  • pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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