Distinct expression of TRPM8, TRPA1, and TRPV1 mRNAs in rat primary afferent neurons with aδ/c-fibers and colocalization with trk receptors



The transient receptor potential (TRP) superfamily of cation channels contains four temperature-sensitive channels, named TRPV1–4, that are activated by heat stimuli from warm to that in the noxious range. Recently, two other members of this superfamily, TRPA1 and TRPM8, have been cloned and characterized as possible candidates for cold transducers in primary afferent neurons. Using in situ hybridization histochemistry and immunohistochemistry, we characterized the precise distribution of TRPA1, TRPM8, and TRPV1 mRNAs in the rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons. In the DRG, TRPM8 mRNA was not expressed in the TRPV1-expressing neuronal population, whereas TRPA1 mRNA was only seen in some neurons in this population. Both A-fiber and C-fiber neurons expressed TRPM8, whereas TRPV1 was almost exclusively seen in C-fiber neurons. All TRPM8-expressing neurons also expressed TrkA, whereas the expression of TRPV1 and TRPA1 was independent of TrkA expression. None of these three TRP channels were coexpressed with TrkB or TrkC. The TRPM8-expressing neurons were more abundant in the TG compared with the DRG, especially in the mandibular nerve region innervating the tongue. Our data suggest heterogeneity of TRPM8 and TRPA1 expression by subpopulations of primary afferent neurons, which may result in the difference of cold-sensitive primary afferent neurons in sensitivity to chemicals such as menthol and capsaicin and nerve growth factor. J. Comp. Neurol. 493:596–606, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.