Channelrhodopsin-2-expressed dorsal root ganglion neurons activates calcium channel currents and increases action potential in spinal cord

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2014 Jul 1;39(15):E865-9. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000000373.


Study design: We used optogenetic techniques in spinal cord and dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neuron studies.

Objective: This study investigated changes in channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) expression in the spinal cord and DRG neurons using optogenetic techniques. The results show the possibility of using optogenetics to treat neuropathic pain.

Summary of background data: Previous studies have shown that activated ChR2 induces an increase in DRG neuron action potential.

Methods: Western blot analysis was used to measure ChR2 protein levels in the spinal cord and DRG neurons or rats intrathecally injected with ChR2 lentivirus. Electrophysiology recording was used to detect differences in action potential levels in the spinal cord and calcium channel currents in the DRG neurons.

Results: Our studies showed that ChR2 expression increased the action potential in the spinal cord and increased calcium channel currents in DRG neurons.

Conclusion: We successfully expressed the ChR2 protein in the spinal cord and DRG neurons. We also found that ChR2 increased the action potential in the spinal cord and activated the calcium channel in DRG neurons. These findings support the research possibilities of using optogenetic studies to improve treatment for neuropathic pain.

Level of evidence: N/A.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Calcium Channels / physiology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Channelrhodopsins
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Genetic Vectors / administration & dosage
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Humans
  • Injections, Spinal
  • Lentivirus / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Optogenetics / methods
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Transfection / methods


  • Calcium Channels
  • Channelrhodopsins
  • Luminescent Proteins