Recent clinical studies have revealed sex differences in response to transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) agonist-induced pain. However, the mechanism of these differences in TRPV1-related chronic pain remains unclear. In the present study, we investigate the effects of inflammation and gonadal hormones on TRPV1 expression in trigeminal ganglia. Inflammatory pain was modeled by injecting complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) into the left masseter muscle in rats. TRPV1 mRNA and protein levels in the trigeminal ganglia of male and female rats following CFA injection were assessed. CFA-induced changes in TRPV1 mRNA and protein expression in the trigeminal ganglia from orchidectomized (ODX) male rats and testosterone-replaced ODX rats were examined. Additionally, TRPV1 mRNA levels in the trigeminal ganglia from ovariectomized (OVX) female and ODX male rats treated with tamoxifen were assessed. We found that the levels of TRPV1 mRNA and protein in the trigeminal ganglia from female rats following CFA injection were significantly higher than in the ganglia from naïve female rats. CFA-induced inflammatory hyperalgesia did not alter TRPV1 expression in the trigeminal ganglia from male rats. The TRPV1 mRNA and protein expression levels in the ODX male trigeminal ganglia were significantly upregulated on day 3 following the initiation of inflammation. However, CFA-induced inflammatory pain had no significant effect on TRPV1 mRNA or protein expression in testosterone-replaced ODX rats. Furthermore, tamoxifen was unable to inhibit the upregulation of TRPV1 expression in OVX female and ODX male rats after CFA injection. In summary, these data indicate that gender differences in TRPV1 function may be, in part, mediated by sex-dependent TRPV1 expression in sensory ganglia. Testosterone plays a key role in the inhibition of TRPV1 expression in this rat chronic inflammatory pain model.
Keywords: Chronic pain; Complete Freund’s adjuvant; Testosterone; Transient receptor potential vanilloid 1; Trigeminal ganglia.