Distinct sensitizing effects of the cAMP-PKA second messenger cascade on rat dural mechanonociceptors

J Physiol. 2002 Jan 15;538(Pt 2):483-93. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2001.013175.


Activation of the cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA) second messenger cascade has been implicated in the induction of mechanical hyperalgesia by inflammatory mediators. We examined the role of this cascade in mechanical sensitization of nociceptive neurons that innervate the meninges, a process thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of headache syndromes such as migraine. Single unit activity was recorded in the trigeminal ganglion from 40 mechanosensitive dural afferents (conduction velocitity: 0.3-6.6 m s(-1)) and nine mechanically insensitive dural afferents (MIAs) (conduction velocitity: 0.3-2.8 m s(-1)) while stimulating the dura with a servo force-controlled stimulator or von Frey monofilaments, respectively. Local application to the dura of dibutyryl adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (dbcAMP, 100 microM), a stable membrane-permeant cAMP analogue, produced mechanical sensitization in the majority of mechanosensitive units (19/29, 66 %). Two distinct patterns of mechanical sensitization were observed. Thirty-eight per cent of the units exhibited only a decrease in threshold (TH group), while 28 % showed only an increase in suprathreshold responses (STH group). dbcAMP also induced mechanosensitivity in the majority of MIA units (6/9, 67 %). dbcAMP-induced sensitization was blocked by the PKA inhibitors, Rp-cAMP (1 mM) and H-89 (100 microM). A mixture of inflammatory mediators induced both components of sensitization in the majority of mechanosensitive units tested. However, in each unit, PKA inhibitors blocked only one of the two effects (either TH or STH). Units that were classified as TH or STH also differed in their baseline stimulus-response slopes, thresholds and conduction velocities. These findings implicate the cAMP-PKA cascade in sensitization of dural mechanonociceptors and suggest that this cascade may produce sensitization through at least two different mechanisms operating in separate neuronal populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bucladesine / pharmacology
  • Cyclic AMP / physiology*
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / physiology*
  • Differential Threshold
  • Dura Mater / cytology
  • Dura Mater / drug effects
  • Dura Mater / physiology*
  • Enzyme Activation / physiology
  • Inflammation Mediators / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Nociceptors / physiology
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Second Messenger Systems / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Trigeminal Ganglion / physiology


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Bucladesine
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases