Expression of Glutaminase and Vesicular Glutamate Transporter Type 2 Immunoreactivity in Rat Sacral Dorsal Root Ganglia Following a Surgical Tail Incision

Pharm Pharmacol Int J. 2015;2(3):00023. doi: 10.15406/ppij.2015.02.00023. Epub 2015 Jun 16.


Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter, released by primary sensory peripheral nerve and spinal synaptic terminals during nociceptive (pain) signaling. The primary source of neurotransmitter, glutamate, is provided from its synthetic enzyme, glutaminase (GLS). Neurotransmitter glutamate is packaged into synaptic vesicles in nociceptive neurons by the vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGluT2). Little is known, however, what effect a surgical incision has on GLS and VGluT2 in primary afferent neurons. In this study, an aseptic, midline incision in the proximal one-third of the rat-tail was examined to determine whether sacral dorsal root ganglia innervate the area of surgical incision, utilizing the retrograde tracer Fluoro-Gold™. Subsequently, the amount of VGluT2 and GLS immunoreactivity (IR) in sacral dorsal root ganglia (DRG) was evaluated using immunofluorescence with image analysis and Western immunoblotting with density analysis. GLS messenger RNA (mRNA) changes were evaluated using real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT2-PCR). Our findings revealed that sacral-1 (S1) DRG neurons innervate the area of surgical incision. Both GLS and VGluT2-ir are elevated post-surgical incision in S1 DRG neurons for up to 72 hours, while GLS mRNA levels rapidly decreased post-incision and remain depressed for at least 96 hours. Following a surgical incision of the tail, sacral DRGs rapidly deplete their available supply of GLS mRNA and alter their production of the synthetic enzyme, GLS and the vesicular transporter, VGluT2. The rapid use of GLS mRNA and subsequent elevation of GLS protein, along with VGluT2 protein may result in both increased glutamate production and release at peripheral and central processes contributing to primary and secondary sensitization, respectively.

Keywords: DRG; GLS; Glutamate; Glutaminase; Incision; PPP; Pain; Post-surgical pain; VGluT2; mRNA.