Neonatal maternal deprivation sensitizes voltage-gated sodium channel currents in colon-specific dorsal root ganglion neurons in rats

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2013 Feb 15;304(4):G311-21. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00338.2012. Epub 2012 Nov 8.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain in association with altered bowel movements. The underlying mechanisms of visceral hypersensitivity remain elusive. This study was designed to examine the role for sodium channels in a rat model of chronic visceral hyperalgesia induced by neonatal maternal deprivation (NMD). Abdominal withdrawal reflex (AWR) scores were performed on adult male rats. Colon-specific dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons were labeled with DiI and acutely dissociated for measuring excitability and sodium channel current under whole-cell patch-clamp configurations. The expression of Na(V)1.8 was analyzed by Western blot and quantitative real-time PCR. NMD significantly increased AWR scores, which lasted for ~6 wk in an association with hyperexcitability of colon DRG neurons. TTX-resistant but not TTX-sensitive sodium current density was greatly enhanced in colon DRG neurons in NMD rats. Compared with controls, activation curves showed a leftward shift in NMD rats whereas inactivation curves did not differ significantly. NMD markedly accelerated the activation time of peak current amplitude without any changes in inactivation time. Furthermore, NMD remarkably enhanced expression of Na(V)1.8 at protein levels but not at mRNA levels in colon-related DRGs. The expression of Na(V)1.9 was not altered after NMD. These data suggest that NMD enhances TTX-resistant sodium activity of colon DRG neurons, which is most likely mediated by a leftward shift of activation curve and by enhanced expression of Na(V)1.8 at protein levels, thus identifying a specific molecular mechanism underlying chronic visceral pain and sensitization in patients with IBS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colon / metabolism*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology*
  • Hyperalgesia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Male
  • Maternal Deprivation*
  • NAV1.8 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / biosynthesis*
  • NAV1.8 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / drug effects
  • NAV1.8 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel / physiology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Reflex, Abdominal
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology


  • NAV1.8 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • Scn10a protein, rat
  • Tetrodotoxin