Acute Colitis Induces Neurokinin 1 Receptor Internalization in the Rat Lumbosacral Spinal Cord

Ming Ming Zhang, Wei Ji, Li Yu Pei, Wen Wang, Tao Chen, Wei Wang, Hui Li, Ting Zhang, Sheng Xi Wu, Yun Qing Li

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Substance P (SP) and its receptor, the neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1R), play important roles in transmitting and regulating somatosensory nociceptive information. However, their roles in visceral nociceptive transmission and regulation remain to be elucidated. In the previous study, moderate SP immunoreactive (SP-ir) terminals and NK1R-ir neurons were observed in the dorsal commissural nucleus (DCN) of the lumbosacral spinal cord. Thus we hypothesized that the SP-NK1R system is involved in visceral pain transmission and control within the DCN. The acute visceral pain behaviors, the colon histological changes and the temporal and spatial changes of NK1R-ir structures and Fos expression in the neurons of the DCN were observed in rats following lower colon instillation with 5% formalin. The formalin instillation induced significant acute colitis as revealed by the histological changes in the colon. NK1R internalization in the DCN was obvious at 8 min. It reached a peak (75.3%) at 30 min, began to decrease at 90 min (58.1%) and finally reached the minimum (19.7%) at 3 h after instillation. Meanwhile, formalin instillation induced a biphasic visceral pain response as well as a strong expression of Fos protein in the nuclei of neurons in the DCN. Finally, intrathecal treatment with the NK1R antagonist L732138 attenuated the NK1R internalization, Fos expression and visceral nociceptive responses. The present results suggest that the visceral nociceptive information arising from inflamed pelvic organs, such as the lower colon, might be mediated by the NK1R-ir neurons in the DCN of the lumbosacral spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere59234
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 21 2013
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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