Anatomical differences in nociceptor neurons sensitivity

  • Crosson T
  • Talbot S
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BACKGROUND Dorsal Root Ganglia (DRG) neurons are derived from the neural crest and mainly innervate the skin, while Jugular Nodose Complex (JNC) neurons originate from the placode and innervate internal organs. These ganglia are composed of highly heterogeneous groups of neurons aimed at assessing and preserving homeostasis. Among other subtypes, nociceptor neurons are specialized in sensing and responding to environmental dangers. As form typically follows function, we hypothesized that JNC and DRG neurons would be phenotypically and transcriptomically different. METHODS Mouse JNC and DRG neurons were cultured ex vivo. Using calcium imaging, qPCR and neurite outgrowth assay, we compared the sensitivity of JNC and DRG neurons. Using in-silico analysis of existing RNA sequencing datasets, we confronted our results to transcriptomic differences found between both ganglia. RESULTS We found drastically different expression levels of Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels, growth factor receptors and neuropeptides in JNC and DRG neurons. Functionally, naïve JNC neurons' TRP channels are more sensitive to thermal cues than the ones from DRG neurons. However, DRG neurons showed increased TRP channel responsiveness, neuropeptide release and neurite outgrowth when exposed to Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). In contrast, JNC neurons preferentially responded to Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). CONCLUSION Our data show that JNC and DRG neurons are transcriptomically and functionally unique and that pain sensitivity is different across anatomical sites. Drugs targeting NGF signaling may have limited efficacy to treat visceral pain. Bioelectronics nerve stimulation should also be adjusted to the ganglia being targeted and their different expression profile.




Crosson, T., & Talbot, S. (2022). Anatomical differences in nociceptor neurons sensitivity. Bioelectronic Medicine, 8(1).

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