Modulation of Purinergic Signaling in Keratinocytes in Spared Nerve Injury Model of Neuropathic Pain

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      Epidermal keratinocytes express various purinergic 2 receptors that play an essential role in cell growth, differentiation, and proliferation. In the conditions of injury, concentrations of extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) may dramatically increase due to cell damage and inflammatory processes. In this situation activation of purinergic signaling in keratinocytes could act as a double-edged sword contributing to skin regeneration or cell apoptosis. As the role of keratinocytes in transducing and modulating nociceptive stimuli has been increasingly appreciated in recent years, the aim of the present study was to evaluate whether peripheral nerve injury affects purinergic signaling in keratinocytes. Spared nerve injury (SNI), a classical model of peripheral neuropathic pain, was induced in mice. The injury was induced by sparing of the tibial nerve, and ligation and cut of the sural and common peroneal nerves. Keratinocytes were isolated and cultured on Days 2-4 post-injury and ATP-mediated calcium responses in keratinocytes were examined by confocal imaging. On average, the number of keratinocytes that responded to ATP with an increase in intracellular calcium gradient as well as the magnitude of the peak response was not significantly different between sham and SNI groups. However, significantly less delay in ATP-induced increase in intracellular calcium concentration was observed in keratinocytes in SNI group compared to sham. Selective pharmacological inhibition of keratinocyte response to ATP indicated a major role of P2 × 4 receptors in the modulation of calcium homeostasis in SNI. Our results indicate that epidermal purinergic signaling undergoes dramatic changes following peripheral nerve injury that may contribute to injury-induced mechanical hypersensitivity.
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