α2 -Adrenergic receptors in human spinal cord: specific localized expression of mRNA encoding α2 -adrenergic receptor subtypes at four distinct levels

Journal Article

α2-Adrenergic receptor (AR) subtype mRNA (α2a, α2b, α2c) neuronal localization in human spinal cord has not been described. We therefore performed in situ hybridization to identify cell bodies at four levels of human spinal cord (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral) containing α2AR subtype specific mRNA. α2AR mRNA is present in gray matter only (ventral > dorsal; sacral > cervical > thoracic = lumbar). In addition to α2AR mRNA in cell bodies in thoracic and lumbar intermediolateral (sympathetic) and sacral intermediate (parasympathetic) cell columns (lamina VII), all levels in dorsal horn laminae I, II, V, and ventral horn lamina IX, we demonstrate α2AR mRNA in dorsal horn laminae III and IV, and dorsal nucleus of Clarke, where α2ARs have not been described. Previously unreported heterogeneity in α2AR subtype distribution (α2a and α2bAR mRNA present, α2cAR mRNA virtually absent) is found at all sites of α2AR mRNA expression in human spinal cord, including locations known to mediate effects of α2AR agonist drugs on nociception, autonomic function and motor tone. Cervical spinal cord demonstrates a predominance of α2a mRNA signal, while thoracic, lumbar, and sacral spinal cord demonstrate an increasing predominance of α2bAR mRNA. If confirmed at a protein level, these findings have profound implications for therapeutic strategies in managing human pain. © 1995.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Smith, MS; Schambra, UB; Wilson, KH; Page, SO; Hulette, C; Light, AR; Schwinn, DA

Published Date

  • 1995

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 34 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 109 - 117

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0169-328X