Trigeminal neuropathic pain in rats: a role for thalamic hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channel activity
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Trigeminal neuropathic pain (TNP) is a condition that occurs when one or more branches of the trigeminal nerve are insulted. Trigeminal neuropathic pain has been shown to be refractory to treatment. Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels regulate neuronal excitability in both the peripheral and central nerve systems. Emerging evidence indicates that HCN channels are involved in the development and maintenance of chronic pain, however, the impact of thalamic HCN channel activity on TNP has yet to be elucidated. In this report, we used a chronic constriction of the distal infraorbital nerve (dIoN-CCI) to induce TNP in rats. By infusing HCN channel blockers into the ventral posteromedial (VPM) nucleus of the thalamus in dIoN-CCI rats, we demonstrated that inhibition of HCN channel activity ameliorated TNP. We found that the HCN blocker ZD7288 and the clinical drug ivabradine dose-dependently attenuated both evoked and none-evoked nociceptive behaviors in dIoN-CCI rats. Electrophysiological measurements showed the expression of HCN current (Ih) in the thalamocortical neurons in the VPM was sensitive to the HCN channel modulator cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), suggesting a contribution of the HCN2 subunit in thalamic HCN current. In the thalamus, surface expression of the HCN2 subunit was increased in dIoN-CCI rats. Taken together, we propose that an increase in HCN channel activity in the thalamus in the ascending nociceptive pathway contributed to trigeminal neuropathic pain.