Kainate-induced excitation and sensitization of nociceptors in normal and inflamed rat glabrous skin

J. Du, S. Zhou, S. M. Carlton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


This study investigates contributions of peripheral kainate receptors to acute nociception and persistent inflammatory pain in rat. Immunohistochemical analysis of kainate receptor expression using antibodies recognizing glutamate receptor subunits 5, 6, and 7 demonstrates that 28% of unmyelinated axons in normal digital nerve are positively labeled. Following intraplantar injection of complete Freund's adjuvant, a significant increase in glutamate receptor subunits 5, 6, and 7-labeled axons occurs at 2 days (40%), but not 7 (31%) or 14 days (28%) post-complete Freund's adjuvant. In behavioral studies, we confirm an increased mechanical sensitivity in complete Freund's adjuvant-injected hind paws. Furthermore, activation of kainate receptors following intraplantar injection of 1.0mM kainate in normal animals results in a mechanical sensitivity similar to that observed in inflamed animals. A 1.0mM kainate injection into inflamed hind paws further enhances the mechanical sensitivity. Injection of the non-N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3- dione (0.1mM) reverses complete Freund's adjuvant-induced mechanical sensitivity through a local effect. In single unit recordings from nociceptors in a glabrous skin-nerve preparation, mechanical sensitization is present in inflamed skin evidenced by a decrease in mechanical threshold and an increase in discharge rate during a suprathreshold, constant force stimulus. Thermal sensitization is also present evidenced by a decrease in heat threshold. There is a dose-dependent increase in kainate-induced nociceptor activity in both normal and inflamed skin but the kainate required to induce activation is reduced in inflamed skin. Although proportions of kainate-activated nociceptors are the same in normal and inflamed skin, the kainate-induced mean discharge rate is significantly enhanced in inflamed skin. Exposure of normal and inflamed nociceptors to 0.3mM kainate sensitizes fibers to re-application of kainate and heat. This sensitization is blocked in the presence of 6-cyano-7- nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione or the glutamate receptor subunit 5 selective antagonist 3S,4aR,6S,8aR-6-[4-carboxy-phenyl] methyl-1,2,3,4,4a,5,6,7,8,8a-deca- hydroisoquinoline-3-carboxylic acid. The data indicate that peripheral kainate receptors not only play an important role in normal nociception but also contribute to mechanical sensitivity and heat sensitization accompanying inflammatory pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1013
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Complete Freund's adjuvant
  • Glutamate
  • Inflammation
  • Kainate acid
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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