Capsaicin and its ultrapotent analog resiniferatoxin (RTX) act through specific vanilloid receptors on sensory neurons. Here, we describe specific vanilloid responses in rat C6 glioma cells. Capsaicin and RTX stimulated 45Ca uptake in a similar fashion to that found for cultured rat dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRGs); this response was antagonized by the antagonists capsazepine and ruthenium red. As in DRGs, pretreatment of C6 cells with capsaicin or RTX produced desensitization to subsequent stimulation of 45Ca uptake. The potency for desensitization by RTX in the C6 cells corresponded to that for 45Ca uptake, whereas in DRGs it occurred at significantly lower concentrations corresponding to that for the high affinity [3H]RTX binding site. Consistent with this difference, in C6 cells we were unable to detect [3H]RTX binding. These characteristics suggest the presence of C-type but not R-type vanilloid receptors on C6 cells. After 2 day treatment, capsaicin but not RTX inhibited the proliferation and altered the differentiation of the cells and produced apoptosis. In the long term experiments, capsazepine, instead of antagonizing the effect of capsaicin, acted as an agonist. Moreover, capsazepine displayed these effects with higher potency than that of capsaicin. The different potencies and structure activity relations suggest a distinct mechanism for these long-term vanilloid effects. Our finding that C6 cells can respond directly to capsaicin necessitates a reevaluation of the in vivo pathway of response to vanilloids, and highlights the importance of the neuron-glial network.
Copyright 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.