Available evidence indicates voltage-gated Na+ channels (VGSCs) in peripheral sensory neurons are essential for the pain and hypersensitivity associated with tissue injury. However, our understanding of the biophysical and pharmacological properties of the channels in sensory neurons is largely based on the study of heterologous systems or rodent tissue, despite evidence that both expression systems and species differences influence these properties. Therefore, we sought to determine the extent to which the biophysical and pharmacological properties of VGSCs were comparable in rat and human sensory neurons. Whole cell patch clamp techniques were used to study Na+ currents in acutely dissociated neurons from human and rat. Our results indicate that while the two major current types, generally referred to as tetrodotoxin (TTX)-sensitive and TTX-resistant were qualitatively similar in neurons from rats and humans, there were several differences that have important implications for drug development as well as our understanding of pain mechanisms.
Keywords: NaV1.7; NaV1.8; cell culture; human; local anesthetics; neuroscience.