Peripheral diabetic neuropathy (PDN) is a devastating complication of diabetes mellitus (DM). Here we test the hypothesis that the transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) ion channel on primary afferent nerve fibers is involved in the pathogenesis of PDN, due to sustained activation by reactive compounds generated in DM. DM was induced by streptozotocin in rats that were treated daily for 28 days with a TRPA1 channel antagonist (Chembridge-5861528) or vehicle. Laser Doppler flow method was used for assessing axon reflex induced by intraplantar injection of a TRPA1 channel agonist (cinnamaldehyde) and immunohistochemistry to assess substance P-like innervation of the skin. In vitro calcium imaging and patch clamp were used to assess whether endogenous TRPA1 agonists (4-hydroxynonenal and methylglyoxal) generated in DM induce sustained activation of the TRPA1 channel. Axon reflex induced by a TRPA1 channel agonist in the plantar skin was suppressed and the number of substance P-like immunoreactive nerve fibers was decreased 4 weeks after induction of DM. Prolonged treatment with Chembridge-5861528 reduced the DM-induced attenuation of the cutaneous axon reflex and loss of substance P-like immunoreactive nerve fibers. Moreover, in vitro calcium imaging and patch clamp results indicated that reactive compounds generated in DM (4-hydroxynonenal and methylglyoxal) produced sustained activations of the TRPA1 channel, a prerequisite for adverse long-term effects. The results indicate that the TRPA1 channel exerts an important role in the pathogenesis of PDN. Blocking the TRPA1 channel provides a selective disease-modifying treatment of PDN.
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