Overexpression of artemin in the tongue increases expression of TRPV1 and TRPA1 in trigeminal afferents and causes oral sensitivity to capsaicin and mustard oil

Brain Res. 2008 Sep 16;1230:80-90. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2008.06.119. Epub 2008 Jul 10.


Artemin, a member of the glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family, supports a subpopulation of trigeminal sensory neurons through activation of the Ret/GFRalpha3 receptor tyrosine kinase complex. In a previous study we showed that artemin is increased in inflamed skin of wildtype mice and that transgenic overexpression of artemin in skin increases TRPV1 and TRPA1 expression in dorsal root ganglia neurons. In this study we examined how transgenic overexpression of artemin in tongue epithelium affects the anatomy, gene expression and calcium handling properties of trigeminal sensory afferents. At the RNA level, trigeminal ganglia of artemin overexpresser mice (ART-OEs) had an 81% increase in GFRalpha3, a 190% increase in TRPV1 and a 403% increase in TRPA1 compared to wildtype (WT) controls. Myelinated and unmyelinated fibers of the lingual nerve were increased in diameter, as was the density of GFRalpha3 and TRPV1-positive innervation to the dorsal anterior tongue and fungiform papilla. Retrograde labeling of trigeminal afferents by WGA injection into the tip of the tongue showed an increased percentage of GFRalpha3, TRPV1 and isolectin B4 afferents in ART-OE mice. ART-OE afferents had larger calcium transients in response to ligands of TRPV1 (capsaicin) and TRPA1 (mustard oil). Behavioral sensitivity was also exhibited by ART-OE mice to capsaicin and mustard oil, measured using a two-choice drinking test. These results suggest a potential role for artemin-responsive GFRalpha3/TRPV1/TRPA1 sensory afferents in mediating sensitivity associated with tissue injury, chemical sensitivity or disease states such as burning mouth syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology*
  • Drinking / physiology
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lingual Nerve / pathology
  • Lingual Nerve / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mustard Plant
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Neurons, Afferent / metabolism*
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • TRPA1 Cation Channel
  • TRPV Cation Channels / biosynthesis*
  • Tongue / innervation
  • Tongue / metabolism*
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / biosynthesis*
  • Trigeminal Ganglion / cytology
  • Trigeminal Ganglion / metabolism*


  • Artn protein, mouse
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Plant Oils
  • TRPA1 Cation Channel
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • TRPV1 protein, mouse
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels
  • Trpa1 protein, mouse
  • SYBR Green I
  • Capsaicin
  • Calcium
  • mustard oil