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Osthole, a herbal compound, alleviates nucleus pulposus-evoked nociceptive responses through the suppression of overexpression of acid-sensing ion channel 3 (ASIC3) in rat dorsal root ganglion

Qiu-Lan He, Yuling Chen, Jian Qin, Sui-Lin Mo, Ming Wei, Jin-Jun Zhang, Mei-Na Li, Xue-Nong Zou, Shu-Feng Zhou, Xiao-Wu Chen, Lai-Bao Sun

Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(6): BR229-236

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.882899

Available online: 2012-06-01

Published: 2012-06-01

Background:    Osthole (Ost), a natural coumarin derivative, has been shown to inhibit many pro-inflammatory mediators and block voltage-gated Na+ channels. During inflammation, acidosis is an important pain inducer which activates nociceptors by gating depolarizing cationic channels, such as acid-sensing ion channel 3 (ASIC3). The aim of this study was to examine the effects of Ost on nucleus pulposus-evoked nociceptive responses and ASIC3 over-expression in the rat dorsal root ganglion, and to investigate the possible mechanism.
    Material/Methods:    Radicular pain was generated with application of nucleus pulposus (NP) to nerve root. Mechanical allodynia was evaluated using von Frey filaments with logarithmically incremental rigidity to calculate the 50% probability thresholds for mechanical paw withdrawal. ASIC3 protein expression in dorsal root ganglions (DRGs) was assessed with Western blot and immunohistochemistry. Membrane potential (MP) shift of DRG neurons induced by ASIC3-sensitive acid (pH6.5) was determined by DiBAC4 (3) fluorescence intensity (F.I.).
    Results:    The NP-evoked mechanical hyperalgesia model showed allodynia for 3 weeks, and ASIC3 expression was up-regulated in DRG neurons, reaching peak on Day 7. Epidural administration of Ost induced a remarkable and prolonged antinociceptive effect, accompanied by an inhibition of over-expressed ASIC3 protein and of abnormal shift of MP. Amiloride (Ami), an antagonist of ASIC3, strengthened the antinociceptive effect of Ost.
    Conclusions:    Up-regulation of ASIC3 expression may be associated with NP-evoked mechanical hyperalgesia. A single epidural injection of Ost decreased ASIC3 expression in DGR neurons and the pain in the NP-evoked mechanical hyperalgesia model. Osthole may be of great benefit for preventing chronic pain status often seen in lumbar disc herniation (LDH).

Keywords: Nociception - drug effects, Pain - physiopathology, Neurons - pathology, Nerve Tissue Proteins - metabolism, Membrane Potentials - drug effects, Intervertebral Disc - pathology, Hyperalgesia - physiopathology, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration - drug effects, Ganglia, Spinal - pathology, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Coumarins - therapeutic use, Blotting, Western, Animals, Analgesics - pharmacology, Acid Sensing Ion Channels, Pain Threshold - drug effects, Phytotherapy, Plant Preparations - therapeutic use, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Sodium Channels - metabolism