Is Optogenetic Activation of Vglut1-Positive Aβ Low-Threshold Mechanoreceptors Sufficient to Induce Tactile Allodynia in Mice after Nerve Injury?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Mechanical allodynia is a cardinal feature of pathological pain. Recent work has demonstrated the necessity of Aβ-low-threshold mechanoreceptors (Aβ-LTMRs) for mechanical allodynia-like behaviors in mice, but it remains unclear whether these neurons are sufficient to produce pain under pathological conditions. We generated a transgenic mouse in which channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) is conditionally expressed in vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (Vglut1) sensory neurons (Vglut1-ChR2), which is a heterogeneous population of large-sized sensory neurons with features consistent with Aβ-LTMRs. In naive male Vglut1-ChR2 mice, transdermal hindpaw photostimulation evoked withdrawal behaviors in an intensity- and frequency-dependent manner, which were abolished by local anesthetic and selective A-fiber blockade. Surprisingly, male Vglut1-ChR2 mice did not show significant differences in light-evoked behaviors or real-time aversion after nerve injury despite marked hypersensitivity to punctate mechanical stimuli. We conclude that optogenetic activation of cutaneous Vglut1-ChR2 neurons alone is not sufficient to produce pain-like behaviors in neuropathic mice.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Mechanical allodynia, in which innocuous touch is perceived as pain, is a common feature of pathological pain. To test the contribution of low-threshold mechanoreceptors (LTMRs) to nerve-injury-induced mechanical allodynia, we generated and characterized a new transgenic mouse (Vglut1-ChR2) to optogenetically activate cutaneous vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (Vglut1)-positive LTMRs. Using this mouse, we found that light-evoked behaviors were unchanged by nerve injury, which suggests that activation of Vglut1-positive LTMRs alone is not sufficient to produce pain. The Vglut1-ChR2 mouse will be broadly useful for the study of touch, pain, and itch.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chamessian, A; Matsuda, M; Young, M; Wang, M; Zhang, Z-J; Liu, D; Tobin, B; Xu, Z-Z; Van de Ven, T; Ji, R-R

Published Date

  • July 31, 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 39 / 31

Start / End Page

  • 6202 - 6215

PubMed ID

  • 31152125

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6668198

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1529-2401

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2064-18.2019


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States