Dissociation of the opioid receptor mechanisms that control mechanical and heat pain

Scherrer G, Imamachi N, Cao YQ, Contet C, Mennicken F, O’Donnell D, Kieffer BL, Basabaum AI (2009). Cell, 137(6):1148-1159 Read More

Abstract

Delta and mu opioid receptors (DORs and MORs) are inhibitory G protein-coupled receptors that reportedly cooperatively regulate the transmission of pain messages by substance P and TRPV1-expressing pain fibers. Using a DOReGFP reporter mouse we now show that the DOR and MOR are, in fact, expressed by different subsets of primary afferents. The MOR is expressed in peptidergic pain fibers, the DOR in myelinated and nonpeptidergic afferents. Contrary to the prevailing view, we demonstrate that the DOR is trafficked to the cell surface under resting conditions, independently of substance P, and internalized following activation by DOR agonists. Finally, we show that the segregated DOR and MOR distribution is paralleled by a remarkably selective functional contribution of the two receptors to the control of mechanical and heat pain, respectively. These results demonstrate that behaviorally relevant pain modalities can be selectively regulated through the targeting of distinct subsets of primary afferent pain fibers.

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Posted on October 6, 2009
Posted in: Axon Injury & Repair, Publications, Therapeutics & Diagnostics Authors: