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Papers of the Week

Papers: 24 Feb 2024 - 1 Mar 2024

2024 Feb 24

Sci Rep




In vivo imaging of cathepsin B in activated glia in the brain after orofacial formalin test.


McIlwrath SL, Carroll-Portillo AC, Lin HC, Westlund KN


PURPOSE Cathepsin B (Cat B) is a cysteine lysosomal protease that is upregulated in many inflammatory diseases and widely expressed in the brain. Here, we used a Cat B activatable near-infrared (NIR) imaging probe to measure glial activation in vivo in the formalin test, a standard orofacial inflammatory pain model. The probe’s efficacy was quantified with immunohistochemical analysis of the somatosensory cortex. PROCEDURES Three different concentrations of Cat B imaging probe (30, 50, 100 pmol/200 g bodyweight) were injected intracisternally into the foramen magnum of rats under anesthesia. Four hours later formalin (1.5%, 50 μl) was injected into the upper lip and the animal’s behaviors recorded for 45 min. Subsequently, animals were repeatedly scanned using the IVIS Spectrum (8, 10, and 28 h post imaging probe injection) to measure extracellular Cat B activity. Aldehyde fixed brain sections were immunostained with antibodies against microglial marker Iba1 or astrocytic GFAP and detected with fluorescently labeled secondary antibodies to quantify co-localization with the fluorescent probe. RESULTS The Cat B imaging probe only slightly altered the formalin test results. Nocifensive behavior was only reduced in phase 1 in the 100 pmol group. In vivo measured fluorescence efficiency was highest in the 100 pmol group 28 h post imaging probe injection. Post-mortem immunohistochemical analysis of the somatosensory cortex detected the greatest amount of NIR fluorescence localized on microglia and astrocytes in the 100 pmol imaging probe group. Sensory neuron neuropeptide and cell injury marker expression in ipsilateral trigeminal ganglia was not altered by the presence of fluorescent probe. CONCLUSIONS These data demonstrate a concentration- and time-dependent visualization of extracellular Cat B in activated glia in the formalin test using a NIR imaging probe. Intracisternal injections are well suited for extracellular CNS proteinase detection in conditions when the blood-brain barrier is intact.