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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Dec 2022 - 23 Dec 2022

2022 Dec 16

Mol Pain

Non-nociceptive and nociceptive-like trigeminal Aβ-afferent neurons of rats: distinct electrophysiological properties, mechanical and chemical sensitivity.


The role of Aβ-afferents in somatosensory function is often oversimplified as low threshold mechanoreceptors (LTMRs) with large omission of Aβ-afferent involvement in nociception. Recently, we have characterized Aβ-afferent neurons which have large diameter somas in the trigeminal ganglion (TG) and classified them into non-nociceptive and nociceptive-like TG afferent neurons based on their electrophysiological properties. Here, we extend our previous observations to further characterize electrophysiological properties of trigeminal Aβ-afferent neurons and investigate their mechanical and chemical sensitivity by patch-clamp recordings from large-diameter TG neurons in ex vivo TG preparations of adult male and female rats. Based on cluster analysis of electrophysiological properties, trigeminal Aβ-afferent neurons can be classified into five discrete types (type I, IIa, IIb, IIIa, and IIIb), which responded differentially to mechanical stimulation and sensory mediators including serotonin (5-HT), acetylcholine (ACh) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Notably, type I neuron action potential (AP) was small in amplitude, width was narrow in duration, and peak dV/dt repolarization was great with no deflection observed, whereas discretely graded differences were observed for type IIa, IIb, IIIa, and IIIb, as AP increased in amplitude, width broadened in duration, and peak dV/dt repolarization reduced with the emergence of increasing deflection. Type I, IIa, and IIb neurons were mostly mechanically sensitive, displaying robust and rapidly adapting mechanically activated current (IMA) in response to membrane displacement, while IIIa and IIIb, conversely, were almost all mechanically insensitive. Interestingly, mechanical insensitivity coincided with increased sensitivity to 5-HT and ACh. Together, type I, IIa and IIb display features of LTMR Aβ-afferent neurons while type IIIa and type IIIb show properties of nociceptive Aβ-afferent neurons.