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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Jul 2021 - 23 Jul 2021

Animal Studies

2021 Jun 17


Piezo2 mechanosensitive ion channel is located to sensory neurons and nonneuronal cells in rat peripheral sensory pathway: implications in pain.



Piezo2 mechanotransduction channel is a crucial mediator of sensory neurons for sensing and transducing touch, vibration, and proprioception. We here characterized Piezo2 expression and cell specificity in rat peripheral sensory pathway using a validated Piezo2 antibody. Immunohistochemistry using this antibody revealed Piezo2 expression in pan primary sensory neurons of dorsal root ganglia in naïve rats, which was actively transported along afferent axons to both central presynaptic terminals innervating the spinal dorsal horn (DH) and peripheral afferent terminals in the skin. Piezo2 immunoreactivity (IR) was also detected in the postsynaptic neurons of the DH and in the motor neurons of the ventral horn, but not in spinal glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive and Iba1-positive glia. Notably, Piezo2-IR was clearly identified in peripheral nonneuronal cells, including perineuronal glia, Schwann cells in the sciatic nerve and surrounding cutaneous afferent endings, as well as in skin epidermal Merkel cells and melanocytes. Immunoblots showed increased Piezo2 in dorsal root ganglia ipsilateral to plantar injection of complete Freund's adjuvant, and immunostaining revealed increased Piezo2-IR intensity in the DH ipsilateral to complete Freund's adjuvant injection. This elevation of DH Piezo2-IR was also evident in various neuropathic pain models and monosodium iodoacetate knee osteoarthritis pain model, compared with controls. We conclude that (1) the pan neuronal profile of Piezo2 expression suggests that Piezo2 may function extend beyond simply touch or proprioception mediated by large-sized low-threshold mechanosensitive primary sensory neurons; (2) Piezo2 may have functional roles involving sensory processing in the spinal cord, Schwann cells, and skin melanocytes; and (3) aberrant Piezo2 expression may contribute pain pathogenesis.