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Papers of the Week

Papers: 7 Mar 2020 - 13 Mar 2020

Animal Studies

2020 Feb 27


Activation of EphB receptors contributes to primary sensory neuron excitability by facilitating Ca2+ influx directly or through Src kinase-mediated NMDA receptor phosphorylation.


EphrinB-EphB receptor tyrosine kinases have been demonstrated to play important roles in pain processing after peripheral nerve injury. We have previously reported that ephrinB-EphB receptor signaling can regulate excitability and plasticity of neurons in spinal dorsal horn, and thus contribute to spinal central sensitization in neuropathic pain. How EphB receptor activation influences excitability of primary neurons in dorsal root ganglion (DRG), however, remains unknown. Here we report that EphB receptor activation facilitates calcium influx through NMDA receptor dependent and independent manners. In cultured DRG cells from adult rats, EphB1 and EphB2 receptors were expressed in neurons, but not the glial cells. Bath application of EphB receptor agonist ephrinB2-Fc induced NMDA-independent Ca influx, which was from the extracellular space rather than endoplasmic reticulum. EphB receptor activation also greatly enhanced NMDA-dependent Ca influx and NR2B phosphorylation, which was prevented by pre-treatment of Src kinase inhibitor PP2. In nerve-injured DRG neurons, elevated expression and activation of EphB1 and EphB2 receptors contributed to the increased intracellular Ca concentration and NMDA-induced Ca influx. Repetitive intrathecal administration of EphB2-Fc inhibited the increased phosphorylation of NR2B and Ca-dependent subsequent signals Src, ERK, and CaMKII as well as behaviorally expressed pain after nerve injury. These findings demonstrate that activation of EphB receptors can modulate DRG neuron excitability by facilitating Ca influx directly or through Src kinase activation-mediated NMDA receptor phosphorylation and that EphB receptor activation is critical to DRG neuron hyperexcitability, which has been considered critical to the subsequent spinal central sensitization and neuropathic pain.