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Dynorphin is expressed primarily by GABAergic neurons that contain galanin in the rat dorsal horn

Author(s): Sardella Thomas | Polgár Erika | Garzillo Francesca | Furuta Takahiro | Kaneko Takeshi | Watanabe Masahiko | Todd Andrew

Journal: Molecular Pain
ISSN 1744-8069

Volume: 7;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 76;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background The opioid peptide dynorphin is expressed by certain neurons in the superficial dorsal horn of the spinal cord, but little is known about the types of cell that contain dynorphin. In this study, we have used an antibody against the dynorphin precursor preprodynorphin (PPD), to reveal the cell bodies and axons of dynorphin-expressing neurons in the rat spinal cord. The main aims were to estimate the proportion of neurons in each of laminae I-III that express dynorphin and to determine whether they are excitatory or inhibitory neurons. Results PPD-immunoreactive cells were concentrated in lamina I and the outer part of lamina II (IIo), where they constituted 17% and 8%, respectively, of all neurons. Around half of those in lamina I and 80% of those in lamina II were GABA-immunoreactive. We have previously identified four non-overlapping neurochemical populations of inhibitory interneurons in this region, defined by the presence of neuropeptide Y, galanin, parvalbumin and neuronal nitric oxide synthase. PPD co-localised extensively with galanin in both cell bodies and axons, but rarely or not at all with the other three markers. PPD was present in around 4% of GABAergic boutons (identified by the presence of the vesicular GABA transporter) in laminae I-II. Conclusions These results show that most dynorphin-expressing cells in the superficial dorsal horn are inhibitory interneurons, and that they largely correspond to the population that is defined by the presence of galanin. We estimate that dynorphin is present in ~32% of inhibitory interneurons in lamina I and 11% of those in lamina II. Since the proportion of GABAergic boutons that contain PPD in these laminae was considerably lower than this, our findings suggest that these neurons may generate relatively small axonal arborisations.
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