Molecular, cellular, and behavioral changes associated with pathological pain signaling occur after dental pulp injury

Caroline S. Lee, Austin A. Ramsey, Helaine De Brito-Gariepy, Benoit Michot, Eugene Podborits, Janet Melnyk, Jennifer L. Gibbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Persistent pain can occur after routine dental treatments in which the dental pulp is injured. To better understand pain chronicity after pulp injury, we assessed whether dental pulp injury in mice causes changes to the sensory nervous system associated with pathological pain. In some experiments, we compared findings after dental pulp injury to a model of orofacial neuropathic pain, in which the mental nerve is injured. After unilateral dental pulp injury, we observed increased expression of activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) and neuropeptide Y (NPY) mRNA and decreased tachykinin precursor 1 gene expression, in the ipsilateral trigeminal ganglion. We also observed an ipsilateral increase in the number of trigeminal neurons expressing immunoreactivity for ATF3, a decrease in substance P (SP) immunoreactive cells, and no change in the number of cells labeled with IB4. Mice with dental pulp injury transiently exhibit hindpaw mechanical allodynia, out to 12 days, while mice with mental nerve injury have persistent hindpaw allodynia. Mice with dental pulp injury increased spontaneous consumption of a sucrose solution for 17 days while mental nerve injury mice did not. Finally, after dental pulp injury, an increase in expression of the glial markers Iba1 and glial fibrillary acidic protein occurs in the transition zone between nucleus caudalis and interpolaris, ipsilateral to the injury. Collectively these studies suggest that dental pulp injury is associated with significant neuroplasticity that could contribute to persistent pain after of dental pulp injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMolecular Pain
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Nerve injury
  • chronic pain
  • dental pulp
  • glia
  • orofacial pain
  • trigeminal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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