Galanin is a 29-amino-acid neuropeptide expressed in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons which is thought to play a role in modulation of nociception in neuropathic states. Activation of galanin receptor 2 (GalR2) plays a pronociceptive role and enhances capsaicin-induced nociception in the periphery. GalR2 and vanilloid receptor 1 (VR1) are co-expressed in DRG neurons. Capsaicin evokes acute pain via activation of VR1 expressed in primary sensory neurons. It is not known to what extent galanin and its receptor GalR2 expression is regulated by capsaicin in DRG neurons. Effects of acute (4 h) or chronic (4 d) treatment with capsaicin at different concentrations (0.01, 0.1, 1 μmol/L) on galanin and GalR2 expression in primary cultured DRG neurons were investigated in the present study. Our results showed that acute exposure of high concentration capsaicin (1 μmol/L) increased galanin expression, whereas chronic exposure of low concentration capsaicin (0.01, 0.1 μmol/L) promoted galanin expression. Only chronic exposure of 0.1 μmol/L concentration cap-saicin could elevate GalR2 expression, whereas capsaicin did not have this effect at any other conditions in this experiment. These results indicated that certain concentrations or exposure time of capsaicin stimulation may be relevant to upregulation of galanin and its receptor GalR2 expression in DRG cultures suggesting a response to peripheral neuronal stimulation. And also, capsaicin-induced GalR2 expression may be also modulated by capsaicin-induced galanin expression. The possible significance of the neurotransmission of nociceptive information involved in galanin or GalR2 expression caused by capsaicin is still to be clarified.
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