Sensitization to the behavioral effect of kainic acid in the mouse is mediated by nitric oxide

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Kainic acid (KA)-sensitive receptors are located on primary afferent C- fibers. Behavioral sensitization to each of four repeated injections of KA appears to involve activation of primary afferent C-fibers based on its susceptibility to capsaicin pretreatment. Hyperalgesia, thought to involve transmission along C-fibers, is sensitive to pharmacologic manipulation of nitric oxide (NO). We tested the hypothesis that KA activates C-fibers, either directly or indirectly, by a mechanism that involves NO. Pretreatment with N(ω)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), an inhibitor of NO synthesis, inhibited KA sensitization whereas D-NAME, the inactive isomer, failed to mimic this action. D-Arginine also inhibited sensitization to KA, whereas L-arginine, a NO precursor, was inactive when administered alone but reversed the inhibitory effect of L-NAME. Methylene blue, which inhibits guanylyl cyclase and NO synthase, attenuated KA sensitization, suggesting that cyclic GMP synthesis may also be involved in this phenomenon. Reduced hemoglobin, which sequesters NO in the extracellular space, attenuated KA sensitization, indicating that the effect of NO is brought about in structures adjacent to cells in which it is synthesized. This convergence of data is consistent with the mediation of behavioral sensitization to KA by NO. KA sensitization has been shown to involve an action of the NH2 terminus of substance P (SP) and NO may thus mobilize SP. Consistent with this, in the presence of SP(1-7), methylene blue was no longer able to inhibit sensitization to KA, suggesting that NO evokes, rather than results from, mobilization of SP. Together these data suggest that activation of primary afferent C-fibers by KA involves the synthesis and intercellular action of NO and may reflect a mechanism similar to that underlying the development of hyperalgesia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-550
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995


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