We compared the distribution of the alpha-subunit mRNAs of voltage-gated sodium channels Nav1.1-1.3 and Nav1.6-1.9 and a related channel, Nax, in histochemically identified neuronal subpopulations of the rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG). In the naïve DRG, the expression of Nav1.1 and Nav1.6 was restricted to A-fiber neurons, and they were preferentially expressed by TrkC neurons, suggesting that proprioceptive neurons possess these channels. Nav1.7, -1.8, and -1.9 mRNAs were more abundant in C-fiber neurons compared with A-fiber ones. Nax was evenly expressed in both populations. Although Nav1.8 and -1.9 were preferentially expressed by TrkA neurons, other alpha-subunits were expressed independently of TrkA expression. Actually, all IB4(+) neurons expressed both Nav1.8 and -1.9, and relatively limited subpopulations of IB4(+) neurons (3% and 12%, respectively) expressed Nav1.1 and/or Nav1.6. These findings provide useful information in interpreting the electrophysiological characteristics of some neuronal subpopulations of naïve DRG. After L5 spinal nerve ligation, Nav1.3 mRNA was up-regulated mainly in A-fiber neurons in the ipsilateral L5 DRG. Although previous studies demonstrated that nerve growth factor (NGF) and glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) reversed this up-regulation, the Nav1.3 induction was independent of either TrkA or GFRalpha1 expression, suggesting that the induction of Nav1.3 may be one of the common responses of axotomized DRG neurons without a direct relationship to NGF/GDNF supply.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.