Hypersensitivity to thermal and mechanical stimuli can occur in painful pulpitis. To explore the neuro-anatomical basis of heat and mechanical sensitivity, we evaluated expression of TRPV1 (heat) and TRPV2 (heat/mechanical) channels in the cell bodies and terminal arborizations of neurons that innervate the dental pulp (DP) and periodontal tissues (PDL). We report that ∼50% of trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons retrogradely labeled from the DP express TRPV2, and this was significantly greater than the general expression of this channel in the TG (15%) and slightly more than what is expressed in the PDL by retrograde labeling (40%). The TRPV1 receptor, however, was less prevalent in neurons innervating the DP than their general expression in the TG (17% vs. 26%) and was more extensively expressed in neurons innervating the PDL (26%). Co-labeling studies showed that 70% of neurons that innervate the DP are myelinated. Approximately 1/3 of the retrogradely labeled neurons from the DP were calcitonin-gene-related-peptide-positive (peptide-expressing), but very few expressed the IB4 marker of non-peptidergic unmyelinated afferents. These findings suggest that the DP has a unique neurochemical innervation with regard to TRP receptor expression, which has significant implications for the mechanisms contributing to odontogenic pain and management strategies.
- dental pulp
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