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Chloride dysregulation and inhibitory receptor blockade yield equivalent disinhibition of spinal neurons yet are differentially reversed by carbonic anhydrase blockade

Lee, Kwan Yeop; Prescott, Steven A.

doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000301
Research Paper

Synaptic inhibition plays a key role in processing somatosensory information. Blocking inhibition at the spinal level is sufficient to produce mechanical allodynia, and many neuropathic pain conditions are associated with reduced inhibition. Disinhibition of spinal neurons can arise through decreased GABAA/glycine receptor activation or through dysregulation of intracellular chloride. We hypothesized that these distinct disinhibitory mechanisms, despite all causing allodynia, are differentially susceptible to therapeutic intervention. Specifically, we predicted that reducing bicarbonate efflux by blocking carbonic anhydrase with acetazolamide (ACTZ) would counteract disinhibition caused by chloride dysregulation without affecting normal inhibition or disinhibition caused by GABAA/glycine receptor blockade. To test this, responses to innocuous tactile stimulation were recorded in vivo from rat superficial dorsal horn neurons before and after different forms of pharmacological disinhibition and again after application of ACTZ. Blocking GABAA or glycine receptors caused hyperresponsiveness equivalent to that caused by blocking the potassium chloride cotransporter KCC2, but, consistent with our predictions, only disinhibition caused by KCC2 blockade was counteracted by ACTZ. ACTZ did not alter responses of neurons with intact inhibition. As pathological downregulation of KCC2 is triggered by brain-derived neurotrophic factor, we also confirmed that ACTZ was effective against brain-derived neurotrophic factor–induced hyperresponsiveness. Our results argue that intrathecal ACTZ has antiallodynic effects only if allodynia arises through chloride dysregulation; therefore, behavioral evidence that ACTZ is antiallodynic in nerve-injured animals affirms the contribution of chloride dysregulation as a key pathological mechanism. Although different disinhibitory mechanisms are not mutually exclusive, these results demonstrate that their relative contribution dictates which specific therapies will be effective.

Disinhibition caused by chloride dysregulation is reversed by blockade of carbonic anhydrase with acetazolamide, whereas disinhibition caused by GABAA or glycine receptor blockade is not.

Neurosciences and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada; Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Corresponding author. Address: Neurosciences and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, 686 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5G 0A4, Canada. Tel.: 416-813-7654 (ext) 309094; fax: 416-813-7717. E-mail address: (S. A. Prescott).

Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.

Received May 13, 2015

Received in revised form July 03, 2015

Accepted July 08, 2015

© 2015 International Association for the Study of Pain
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