Neuronal–immune axis alters pain and sensory afferent damage during dental pulp injury

Ozge Erdogan, Benoit Michot, Jinya Xia, Lama Alabdulaaly, Pilar Yesares Rubi, Vivian Ha, Isaac M. Chiu, Jennifer L. Gibbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dental pulp tissue is densely innervated by afferent fibers of the trigeminal ganglion. When bacteria cause dental decay near the pulpal tissue, a strong neuronal and immune response occurs, creating pulpitis, which is associated with severe pain and pulp tissue damage. Neuroimmune interactions have the potential to modulate both the pain and pathological outcome of pulpitis. We first investigated the role of the neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), released from peptidergic sensory afferents, in dental pain and immune responses by using Calca knockout (Calca-/-) and wild-type (Calca+/+) mice, in a model of pulpitis by creating a mechanical exposure of the dental pulp horn. We found that the neuropeptide CGRP, facilitated the recruitment of myeloid cells into the pulp while also increasing spontaneous pain-like behavior 20% to 25% at an early time point. Moreover, when we depleted neutrophils and monocytes, we found that there was 20% to 30% more sensory afferent loss and increased presence of bacteria in deeper parts of the tissue, whereas there was a significant reduction in mechanical pain response scores compared with the control group at a later time point. Overall, we showed that there is a crosstalk between peptidergic neurons and neutrophils in the pulp, modulating the pain and inflammatory outcomes of the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-403
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024


  • CGRP
  • Dental pain
  • Inflammation
  • Neutrophils
  • Sensory afferent loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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