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Channelrhodopsin-2-Expressed Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurons Activates Calcium Channel Currents and Increases Action Potential in Spinal Cord

Zhang, Yi MD*; Yue, Jing MD, PhD; Ai, Midan PhD; Ji, Zhigang PhD§; Liu, Zhiguo PhD; Cao, Xuehong MD, PhD; Li, Li MD, PhD§

Spine:
doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000000373
Basic Science
Abstract

Study Design. We used optogenetic techniques in spinal cord and dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neuron studies.

Objective. This study investigated changes in channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) expression in the spinal cord and DRG neurons using optogenetic techniques. The results show the possibility of using optogenetics to treat neuropathic pain.

Summary of Background Data. Previous studies have shown that activated ChR2 induces an increase in DRG neuron action potential.

Methods. Western blot analysis was used to measure ChR2 protein levels in the spinal cord and DRG neurons or rats intrathecally injected with ChR2 lentivirus. Electrophysiology recording was used to detect differences in action potential levels in the spinal cord and calcium channel currents in the DRG neurons.

Results. Our studies showed that ChR2 expression increased the action potential in the spinal cord and increased calcium channel currents in DRG neurons.

Conclusion. We successfully expressed the ChR2 protein in the spinal cord and DRG neurons. We also found that ChR2 increased the action potential in the spinal cord and activated the calcium channel in DRG neurons. These findings support the research possibilities of using optogenetic studies to improve treatment for neuropathic pain.

Level of Evidence: N/A

In Brief

This is the first study to show that action potential is increased in the spinal cord and that calcium channel currents are increased in dorsal root ganglion neurons by the use of an optogenetic technique using channelrhodopsin-2.

Author Information

From the Departments of *Anesthesiology and

Reproductive Medical Center, Tongji Hospital, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China

Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

§Department of Neurology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

Institution of Nutrition, Wuhan Polytechnic University, Changqing Garden, Wuhan, People's Republic of China

Institution of Nutrition, Wuhan Polytechnic University, Changqing Garden, Wuha, People's Republic of China; and Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Li Li, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, MS NB302 Houston, TX 77030; E-mail: fromlilyd@gmail.com

Acknowledgment date: November 12, 2013. Revision date: March 6, 2014. Acceptance date: March 20, 2014.

The device(s)/drug(s) is/are FDA-approved or approved by corresponding national agency for this indication.

National Natural Science Foundation of China funds (grant no. 81370246) were received to support this work.

Relevant financial activities outside the submitted work: fees for participation in review activities such as data monitoring boards, statistical analysis, end point committees, and the like; payment for writing or reviewing the manuscript; and provision of writing assistance, medicines, equipment, or administrative support.

Yi Zhang and Jing Yue made the equal contribution to this project.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins