Exogenous NT-3 and NGF differentially modulate PACAP expression in adult sensory neurons, suggesting distinct roles in injury and inflammation
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Expression of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide in sensory neurons varies with injury or inflammation. The neurotrophins NGF and NT-3 are profound regulators of neuronal peptidergic phenotype in intact and injured sensory neurons. This study examined their potential for modulation of PACAP expression in adult rat with intact and injured L4-L6 spinal nerves with or without immediate or delayed intrathecal infusion of NT-3 or NGF. Results indicate that in L5 DRG, few trkC neurons express high levels of PACAP mRNA in the intact state, but many do following injury. The elevated expression in injured neurons is mitigated by NT-3 infusion, suggesting a role for NT-3 in returning the 'injured phenotype' back towards an 'Intact phenotype'. NGF dramatically up-regulated PACAP expression in trkA-positive neurons in both intact and injured DRGs, implicating NGF as a positive regulator of PACAP expression in nociceptive neurons. Surprisingly, NT-3 modulates PACAP expression in an antagonistic fashion to NGF in intact neurons, an effect most evident in the trkA neurons not expressing trkC. Both NT-3 and NGF infusion results in decreased detection of PACAP protein in the region of the gracile nuclei, where central axons of the peripherally axotomized large sensory fibers terminate. NGF infusion also greatly increased the amount of PACAP protein detected in the portion of the dorsal horn innervated by small-medium size DRG neurons, while both neurotrophins appear able to prevent the decrease in PACAP expression observed in these afferents with injury. These results provide the first insights into the potential molecules implicated in the complex regulation of PACAP expression in sensory neurons.