The types of neuron which contain protein kinase C gamma in rat spinal cord

Brain Res. 1999 Jun 26;833(1):71-80. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(99)01500-0.


Protein kinase C (PKC) is thought to have a role in sensitization of dorsal horn neurons in certain pain states, and a recent study has reported that mice which lack the gamma isoform (PKCgamma) show reduced neuropathic pain after peripheral nerve injury. Although PKCgamma is present at high levels in the ventral part of lamina II we have limited information concerning the types of neuron in which it is located. In this study we have used immunocytochemistry to characterise the neurons which contain PKCgamma. Immunoreactive neurons were concentrated in ventral lamina II, but were also present in lamina III. Some weakly-immunoreactive neurons were located in the dorsal part of lamina II and in lamina I. The great majority (92%) of cells with PKCgamma were not GABA-immunoreactive, and these cells are likely to be excitatory interneurons. Dual-immunofluorescence labelling showed that PKCgamma was not randomly distributed amongst non-GABAergic neurons, since it was present in 76% of cells with neurotensin and 45% of those with somatostatin, but only 5% of those with the mu-opioid receptor (MOR-1). Cells with the neurokinin 1 receptor are found in lamina I and lamina III, and PKCgamma was present in 22% and 37% of these populations, respectively. These results suggest that excitatory interneurons in laminae II and III which lack the micro-opioid receptor may have a significant role in generating neuropathic pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Immunologic Techniques
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Neurons / classification*
  • Neurons / enzymology*
  • Neurotensin / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / metabolism
  • Somatostatin / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / enzymology*
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution / physiology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Isoenzymes
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-1
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • Neurotensin
  • Somatostatin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • protein kinase C gamma
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Glycine