Injection of glutamate into the rat temporomandibular joint (TMJ) evoked a concentration-dependent increase in jaw muscle activity. We investigated whether there are sex-related differences in glutamate-evoked jaw muscle activity that are mediated by sex hormones and whether prior injection of glutamate into the TMJ alters the magnitude of jaw muscle activity evoked by a subsequent injection of the algesic and inflammatory compound mustard oil (MO) into the TMJ. The magnitude of glutamate-evoked digastric and masseter muscle activity was significantly greater in female than male rats when 1000 mM glutamate was injected into the TMJ. Gonadectomy significantly reduced the magnitude of glutamate-evoked digastric muscle activity in female rats. Treatment of gonadectomized female rats with estrogen (20 μg/day) increased the magnitude of glutamate-evoked digastric muscle activity. Glutamate-evoked jaw muscle activity in gonadectomized and estrogen-treated gonadectomized males was not significantly different from intact males. Prior injection of glutamate over a concentration range of 10-1000 mM significantly increased digastric muscle activity evoked by MO injection into the TMJ 30 min later. In contrast, MO-evoked masseter muscle activity was significantly increased by prior injection of 250 mM glutamate only. There were, however, no sex-related differences in the enhancement of MO-evoked jaw muscle activity by prior injection of glutamate. These findings indicate that there are sex-related differences in glutamate-evoked jaw muscle activity that are dependent on female sex hormones, and increased glutamate concentrations sensitize the TMJ to noxious chemical stimuli.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Mr. K. MacLeod and Ms. S. Carter for their assistance. This research was supported by NIH grant no. DE11995. B.E.C. was supported by a Fellowship from the Canadian Arthritis Society and the Medical Research Council of Canada.
- Digastric muscle
- Excitatory amino acid
- Masseter muscle
- Temporomandibular joint