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Papers of the Week

2020 Aug 11

Int J Mol Sci



Comparing Gene Expression in the Parabrachial and Amygdala of Diestrus and Proestrus Female Rats after Orofacial Varicella Zoster Injection.



The orofacial pain pathway projects to the parabrachial and amygdala, and sex steroids have been shown to affect neuronal activity in these regions. GABA positive cells in the amygdala are influenced by sex steroid metabolites to affect pain, and sex steroids have been shown to alter the expression of genes in the parabrachial, changing neuronal excitability. Mechanisms by which sex steroids affect amygdala and parabrachial signaling are unclear. The expression of genes in the parabrachial and amygdala in diestrus (low estradiol) and proestrus (high estradiol) female rats were evaluated in this study. First, varicella zoster virus was injected into the whisker pad of female rats to induce a pain response. Second, gene expression was quantitated using RNA-seq one week after injection. Genes that had the greatest change in expression and known to function in pain signaling were selected for the quantitation of protein content. Protein expression of four genes in the parabrachial and seven genes in the amygdala were quantitated by ELISA. In the parabrachial, neurexin 3 (Nrnx3) was elevated at proestrus. Nrnx3 has a role in AMPA receptor and GABA signaling. Neuronatin (Nnat) and protein phosphatase, Mg/Mn dependent 1E (Ppm1e) were elevated in the parabrachial of diestrus animals both genes having a role in pain signaling. Epoxide hydroxylase (Ephx2) was elevated in the parabrachial at proestrus and the vitamin D receptor (Vdr) was elevated in the amygdala. Ephx2 antagonists and vitamin D have been used to treat neuropathic pain. In conclusion, sex steroids regulate genes in the parabrachial and amygdala that might result in the greater pain response observed during diestrus.