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Keywords:

  • arthritis;
  • dorsal root ganglion;
  • in situ hybridization;
  • nociception;
  • periodontitis;
  • trigeminal

Abstract

Proinflammatory neuropeptides, such as substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide, are up-regulated in primary afferent neurons in acute and chronic inflammation. While these neuropeptides have been intensively studied, potentially anti-inflammatory and/or anti-nociceptive neuropeptides such as somatostatin (SS) have been less widely investigated. Endogenous somatostatin is thought to exert a tonic antinociceptive effect. Exogenous SS is anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive and is thought to exert these actions through inhibition of proinflammatory neuropeptide release. In this study we have compared the expression of somatostatin in two inflammatory models: arthritis, a condition associated with increased nociception, and periodontitis, in which there is little evidence of altered nociceptive thresholds. In acute arthritis (< 24 h) SS mRNA was down-regulated in ipsilateral dorsal root ganglia (DRG; 52 ± 7% of control, P < 0.05), and up-regulated in contralateral DRG (134 ± 10% of control; P < 0.05). In chronic arthritis (14 days) this pattern of mRNA regulation was reversed, with SS being up-regulated ipsilaterally and down-regulated contralaterally. In chronic mandibular periodontitis (7–10 days), SS mRNA was up-regulated in only the mandibular division of the ipsilateral trigeminal ganglion (TG) (day 7, 219 ± 9% and day 10, 217 ± 12% of control; P < 0.02) but showed no change in other divisions of the trigeminal ganglion or in the mesencephalic nucleus. These data show that antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory neuropeptides are also regulated in inflammation. It is possible that the degree of inflammation and nociception seen may depend on the balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory and nociceptive peptide expression in a particular condition.