Neuronal Fc-gamma receptor I mediated excitatory effects of IgG immune complex on rat dorsal root ganglion neurons

Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Oct;25(7):1399-407. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2011.04.008. Epub 2011 Apr 18.


Pain often accompanies antigen-specific immune-related disorders though little is known of the underlying neural mechanisms. A common feature among these disorders is the elevated level of antigen-specific immunoglobulin (Ig) G in the serum and the presence of IgG immune complex (IC) in the affected tissue. We hypothesize that IC may directly activate the Fc-gamma receptor type I (FcγRI) expressed in nociceptive dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and increase neuronal excitability thus potentially contributing to pain. Immunofluorescent labeling indicated that FcγRI, but not FcγRIIB or FcγRIII, was expressed in a subpopulation of rat DRG neurons including those expressing nociceptive markers. Calcium imaging revealed that the IC, but neither of the antibody (IgG) or antigen alone, produced an increase in intracellular calcium. This effect was abolished by the removal of the IgG Fc portion in the IC or the application of an anti-FcγRI antibody, suggesting a key role of the FcγRI receptor. Removal of extracellular calcium or depletion of intracellular calcium stores prevented the IC-induced calcium response. In whole-cell current-clamp recordings, IC depolarized the resting membrane potential, decreased the rheobase, and increased the number of action potentials evoked by a depolarizing current at 2× rheobase. In about half of the responsive neurons, IC evoked action potential discharges. These results suggest that a subpopulation of nociceptive neurons expresses functional FcγRI and that the activation of this receptor by IC increases neuronal excitability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / pharmacology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / drug effects
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology*
  • Immunoglobulin G / pharmacology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, IgG / metabolism*


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptors, IgG
  • Calcium