Dissociation of dorsal root ganglion neurons induces hyperexcitability that is maintained by increased responsiveness to cAMP and cGMP

J Neurophysiol. 2007 Jan;97(1):15-25. doi: 10.1152/jn.00559.2006. Epub 2006 Oct 4.


Injury or inflammation affecting sensory neurons in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) causes hyperexcitability of DRG neurons that can lead to spontaneous firing and neuropathic pain. Recent results indicate that after chronic compression of DRG (CCD treatment), both hyperexcitability of neurons in intact DRG and behaviorally expressed hyperalgesia are maintained by concurrent activity in cAMP-protein kinase A (PKA) and cGMP-protein kinase G (PKG) signaling pathways. We report here that when tested under identical conditions, dissociation produces a pattern of hyperexcitability in small DRG neurons similar to that produced by CCD treatment, manifest as decreased action potential (AP) current threshold, increased AP duration, increased repetitive firing to depolarizing pulses, increased spontaneous firing and resting depolarization. A novel feature of this hyperexcitability is its early expression-as soon as testing can be conducted after dissociation (approximately 2 h). Both forms of injury increase the electrophysiological responsiveness of the neurons to activation of cAMP-PKA and cGMP-PKG pathways as indicated by enhancement of hyperexcitability by agonists of these pathways in dissociated or CCD-treated neurons but not in control neurons. Although inflammatory signals are known to activate cAMP-PKA pathways, dissociation-induced hyperexcitability is unlikely to be triggered by signals released from inflammatory cells recruited to the DRG because of insufficient time for recruitment during the dissociation procedure. Inhibition by specific antagonists indicates that continuing activation of cAMP-PKA and cGMP-PKG pathways is required to maintain hyperexcitability after dissociation. The reduction of hyperexcitability by blockers of adenylyl cyclase and soluble guanylyl cyclase after dissociation suggests a continuing release of autocrine and/or paracrine factors from dissociated neurons and/or satellite cells, which activate both cyclases and help to maintain acute, injury-induced hyperexcitability of DRG neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Adenylyl Cyclase Inhibitors
  • Adenylyl Cyclases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Artifacts
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclic AMP / agonists
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism*
  • Cyclic GMP / agonists
  • Cyclic GMP / metabolism*
  • Dissection / adverse effects
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiopathology
  • Guanylate Cyclase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Guanylate Cyclase / metabolism
  • Hyperalgesia / metabolism
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Neurons, Afferent / metabolism*
  • Nociceptors / metabolism*
  • Nociceptors / physiopathology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Stress, Physiological / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • Up-Regulation / physiology


  • Adenylyl Cyclase Inhibitors
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Adenylyl Cyclases
  • Guanylate Cyclase
  • Cyclic GMP