Cannabinoid 1 receptors are expressed in nociceptive primary sensory neurons.
Ahluwalia J., Urban L., Capogna M., Bevan S., Nagy I.
Expression of cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and vanilloid 1 (VR1) receptor proteins was studied in adult, cultured rat dorsal root ganglion neurons. Immunostaining of CB1 receptors alone produced labelling in 57+/-2% of the cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons (n=3 cultures). The area of the labelled cells was between 200 and 800 microm(2) with an average of 527+/-68 microm(2). VR1 immunolabelling revealed immunopositivity in 42+/-6% of the total population of dorsal root ganglion neurons. Cells showing VR1-like immunopositivity had an area between 200 and 600 microm(2). The mean area of the VR1-like immunopositive neurons was 376+/-61 microm(2). Double immunostaining with antisera raised against the CB1 and VR1 receptor proteins, showed a high degree of co-expression between CB1 and VR1 receptors. An average of 82+/-3% of the CB1-like immunopositive cells also showed VR1-like immunoreactivity (n=3 cultures) while 98+/-2% of the VR1-like immunolabelled neurons showed CB1 receptor-like immunostaining (n=3 cultures). Our data suggests that nociceptive primary sensory neurons co-express CB1 and VR1 receptors to a very high degree. We propose that this may provide an anatomical basis for a powerful combination of VR1 mediated excitation and CB1-mediated inhibition of nociceptive responses at central and peripheral terminals of nociceptive primary afferents.