Objective: Our goal was to evaluate the expression patterns for voltage gated sodium channels in odontoblasts of developing and mature rat teeth.
Design: We analysed immunoreactivity (IR) of the alpha subunit for all nine voltage gated sodium channels (Nav1.1-1.9) in teeth of immature (4 weeks), young adult (7 weeks), fully mature adult (3 months), and old rats (6-12 months). We were interested in developmental changes, crown/root differences, tetrodotoxin sensitivity or resistance, co-localization with nerve regions, occurrence in periodontium, and coincidence with other expression patterns by odontoblasts such as for transient receptor potential A1 (TRPA1).
Results: We found that Nav1.1-1.9-IR each had unique odontoblast patterns in mature molars that all differed from developmental stages and from incisors. Nav1.4- and Nav1.7-IR were intense in immature odontoblasts, becoming limited to specific zones in adults. Crown odontoblasts lost Nav1.7-IR and gained Nav1.8-IR where dentine became innervated. Odontoblast staining for Nav1.1- and Nav1.5-IR increased in crown with age but decreased in roots. Nav1.9-IR was especially intense in regularly scattered odontoblasts. Two tetrodotoxin-resistant isoforms (Nav1.5, Nav1.8) had strong expression in odontoblasts near dentinal innervation zones. Nav1.6-IR was concentrated at intercusp and cervical odontoblasts in adults as was TRPA1-IR. Nav1.3-IR gradually became intense in all odontoblasts during development except where dentinal innervation was dense.
Conclusions: All nine voltage-gated sodium channels could be expressed by odontoblasts, depending on intradental location and tooth maturity. Our data reveal much greater complexity and niche-specific specialization for odontoblasts than previously demonstrated, with implications for tooth sensitivity.
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