We have previously shown that injection of the excitatory amino glutamate into the rat temporomandibular joint (TMJ) evokes reflex activity in both anterior digastric (DIG) and masseter (MASS) muscles that can be attenuated by prior TMJ injection of an N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist. The aim of the present study was to test if jaw muscle activity could also be evoked by P2X receptor agonist injection into the rat TMJ region and if the reflex activity could be modulated by TMJ injection of P2X receptor antagonist or NMDA receptor antagonist. The selective P2X subtype agonist alpha,beta-methylene adenosine 5'-triphosphate (alpha,beta-me ATP) and vehicle (phosphate-buffered saline) or the selective P2X antagonist, 2'-(or-3')-O-(2,4,6-trinitrophenyl) adenosine 5'-triphosphate (TNP-ATP) or the selective NMDA antagonist (+/-)-d-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate(APV) were injected into the rat TMJ region. Electromyographic (EMG) reflex activity was recorded in both DIG and MASS muscles. Compared with the baseline EMG activity, alpha,beta-me-ATP injection into the TMJ (but not its systemic administration) following pre-injection of the vehicle significantly increased the magnitude and the duration of ipsilateral DIG and MASS EMG activity in a dose-dependent manner. The alpha,beta-me-ATP-evoked responses could be antagonized by pre-injection of TNP-ATP into the same TMJ site but contralateral TMJ injection of TNP-ATP proved ineffective. Furthermore, the alpha,beta-me-ATP-evoked responses could also be antagonized by APV injected into the same TMJ site but not by its systemic injection. These results indicate the interaction of peripheral purinergic as well as glutamatergic receptor mechanisms in the processing of TMJ nociceptive afferent inputs that evoke reflex activity in jaw muscles.
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