Odontoblasts have been suggested to contribute to nociceptive sensation in the tooth via expression of the transient receptor potential (TRP) channels. The TRP channels as a family of nonselective cation permeable channels play an important role in sensory transduction of human. In this study, we examined the expression of transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV1), transient receptor potential vanilloid-2 (TRPV2) and transient receptor potential vanilloid-3 (TRPV3) channels in native human odontoblasts (HODs) and long-term cultured human dental pulp cells with odontoblast phenotyoe (LHOPs) obtained from healthy wisdom teeth with the use of immunohistochemistry (IHC), immunofluorescence (IF), quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR),western blotting (WB) and immunoelectron microscopy (IEM) assay. LHOPs samples were made into ultrathin sections, mounted on nickel grids, floated of three TRPV antibodies conjugated with 10 nm colloidal gold particles and observed under IEM at 60,000 magnifications. The relative intracellular distributions of these three channels were analyzed quantitatively on IEM images using a robust sampling, stereological estimation and statistical evaluation method. The results of IHC and IF convinced that TRPV1, TRPV2 and TRPV3 channels were expressed in native HODs and (LHOPs). The result of qRT-PCR and WB confirmed that the gene and protein expression of TRPV1, TRPV2, and TRPV3 channels and TRPV1 mRNA are more abundantly expressed than TRPV2 and TRPV3 in HODs (P < 0.05). Quantitative analysis of IEM images showed that the relative intracellular distributions of these three channels are similar, and TRPV1, TRPV2 and TRPV3 proteins were preferential labeled in human odontoblast processes, mitochondria, and endoplasmic reticulum. Thus, HODs could play an important role in mediating pulp thermo-sensation due to the expression of these three TRPV channels. The difference of relative intracellular distributions of three channels suggests that special structures such as processes may have an important role to sensing of the outer stimuli first.
Keywords: Human odontoblast-like cells; Immunoelectron microscopy (IEM); Transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV1); Transient receptor potential vanilloid-2 (TRPV2); Transient receptor potential vanilloid-3 (TRPV3).