Cannabinoid 1 receptors are expressed in
nociceptive primary sensory neurons

Ahluwalia J, Urban L, Capogna M, Bevan S, Nagy I
Department of Anaesthetics,
Imperial College Medical School,
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital,
369 Fulham Road,
SW10 9NH, London, UK
Neuroscience 2000 Oct 11; 100(4):685-688


Expression of cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and vanilloid 1 (VR1) receptor proteins was studied in adult, cultured rat dorsal root ganglion neurons. Immunostaining of CB1 receptors alone produced labelling in 57+/-2% of the cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons (n=3 cultures). The area of the labelled cells was between 200 and 800mum(2) with an average of 527+/-68mum(2). VR1 immunolabelling revealed immunopositivity in 42+/-6% of the total population of dorsal root ganglion neurons. Cells showing VR1-like immunopositivity had an area between 200 and 600mum(2). The mean area of the VR1-like immunopositive neurons was 376+/-61mum(2). Double immunostaining with antisera raised against the CB1 and VR1 receptor proteins, showed a high degree of co-expression between CB1 and VR1 receptors. An average of 82+/-3% of the CB1-like immunopositive cells also showed VR1-like immunoreactivity (n=3 cultures) while 98+/-2% of the VR1-like immunolabelled neurons showed CB1 receptor-like immunostaining (n=3 cultures). Our data suggests that nociceptive primary sensory neurons co-express CB1 and VR1 receptors to a very high degree. We propose that this may provide an anatomical basis for a powerful combination of VR1 mediated excitation and CB1-mediated inhibition of nociceptive responses at central and peripheral terminals of nociceptive primary afferents.

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