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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Sep 2022 - 23 Sep 2022




Mechanistic contribution of CaV3.2 calcium channels to trigeminal neuralgia pathophysiology not clarified.


Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a rare, yet debilitating trigeminal pain disorder, with jolts of supramaximal-debilitating pain in one or more of the three trigeminal branches. Familial TN is now recognized, with a recent report describing several human genetic polymorphisms. One affected gene is the voltage-gated calcium channel, CaV3.2 ( ), with 19 polymorphisms first described. A recent study in PAIN by Gambeta-et-al (DOI:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002651) is entitled " ". Here, I call into question their claim. My main arguments are 1)-3):  1) Gambeta-et-al studied 4/19 mutations reported in heterologous cellular expression, with two mutations showing gain-of-function of CaV3.2, two mutations not showing gain-of-function. Therefore the exemplary picks of familial TN-associated CaV3.2 mutations do not show a uniform change of channel function, such as gain-of-function.  2) In Gambeta-et-al, one gain-of-function mutation, CaV3.2(G563R) was directed to mouse trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons, and their resulting hyperexcitability was demonstrated. A critical control of a non-gain-of-function channel was not included here, it was unclear whether neurons were separated by sex, and human sensory neurons were not used. Importantly, it is not clear that TG  neurons are the critical cellular site of CaV3.2 mutations. 3) Gambeta-et-al used CaV3.2-/- pan-null knockout mice. Human TN-associated CaV3.2 mutations were not over-expressed. They used a infraorbital nerve constriction injury and measured facial heat hyperalgesia.  CaV3.2-/- show a pain phenotype similar to control, yet are not affected by a CaV3-inhibitory compound, Z944. My argument is that when starting with TN-associated human mutations, use of a trigeminal neuropathic pain model is of limited value, and that human mutations have to be expressed against a mouse null background. Re thermal cue, Gambeta-et-al failed to study cold-evoked pain which is a TN clinical hallmark. Thus, Gambeta-et-al's 2022 PAIN-paper offers little new mechanistic evidence why CaV3.2 polymorphisms are associated with trigeminal neuralgia.