Ionotropic glutamate receptors are ligand-gated ion channels that help mediate rapid excitatory neurotransmission in the CNS. α-Amino-3-hydroxy- 5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate (AMPA) receptors are critical for synaptic plasticity in central nociceptive transmission. The current study was designed to investigate the role of the AMPA receptor subunit, GluR1, and its phosphorylated forms (at Ser-831 and Ser-845) in central sensitization in rat spinal cord. Western blots and immunohistochemistry were performed to examine the expression and localization of GluR1 and the phosphorylated forms of GluR1 (phospho-GluR1) at Ser-831 and Ser-845 with specific antibodies. Results showed that immunolabeling of GluR1 protein in rat spinal cord can be detected at 110 kD, and two phospho-GluR1 proteins were found at 106 kD. A significant upregulation of phospho-GluR1 both at Ser-831 and Ser-845 was found by 5 min after capsaicin treatment, and this increase lasted at least 60 min. Immunostaining showed that GluR1 and its phosphorylated forms were localized in the superficial laminae of dorsal horn and quantitative image analysis supported the immunoblotting results. Our findings are consistent with the suggestions that AMPA receptors show increased responsiveness because of their phosphorylation and that this may contribute to central sensitization following intradermal injection of capsaicin.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was funded by NIH grants NS 09743, NS 11255 (WDW) and the J. E. Kempner Scholarship Fund (JW). We thank Kelli Gondesen and Griselda Gonzales for technical help.