NR2 subunits and NMDA receptors on lamina II inhibitory and excitatory interneurons of the mouse dorsal horn
NMDA receptors expressed by spinal cord neurons in the superficial dorsal horn are involved in the development of chronic pain associated with inflammation and nerve injury. The superficial dorsal horn has a complex and still poorly understood circuitry that is mainly populated by inhibitory and excitatory interneurons. Little is known about how NMDA receptor subunit composition, and therefore pharmacology and voltage dependence, varies with neuronal cell type. NMDA receptors are typically composed of two NR1 subunits and two of four NR2 subunits, NR2A-2D. We took advantage of the differences in Mg2+ sensitivity of the NMDA receptor subtypes together with subtype preferring antagonists to identify the NR2 subunit composition of NMDA receptors expressed on lamina II inhibitory and excitatory interneurons. To distinguish between excitatory and inhibitory interneurons, we used transgenic mice expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein driven by the GAD67 promoter. Analysis of conductance ratio and selective antagonists showed that lamina II GABAergic interneurons express both the NR2A/B containing Mg2+ sensitive receptors and the NR2C/D containing NMDA receptors with less Mg2+ sensitivity. In contrast, excitatory lamina II interneurons express primarily NR2A/B containing receptors. Despite this clear difference in NMDA receptor subunit expression in the two neuronal populations, focally stimulated synaptic input is mediated exclusively by NR2A and 2B containing receptors in both neuronal populations. Stronger expression of NMDA receptors with NR2C/D subunits by inhibitory interneurons compared to excitatory interneurons may provide a mechanism to selectively increase activity of inhibitory neurons during intense excitatory drive that can provide inhibitory feedback.
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Also Published In
- Molecular Pain