Quantitative Analysis of Mouse Dural Afferent Neurons Expressing TRPM8, VGLUT3, and NF200

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Objective

To quantify the abundance of dural afferent neurons expressing transient receptor potential channel melastatin 8 (TRPM8), vesicular glutamate transporter 3 (VGLUT3), and neurofilament 200 (NF200) in adult mice.

Background

With the increasing use of mice as a model system to study headache mechanisms, it is important to understand the composition of dural afferent neurons in mice. In a previous study, we have measured the abundance of mouse dural afferent neurons that express neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide as well as two TRP channels TRPV1 and TRPA1, respectively. Here, we conducted quantitative analysis of three other dural afferent subpopulations in adult mice.

Methods

We used the fluorescent tracer Fluoro-Gold to retrogradely label dural afferent neurons in adult mice expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein in discrete subpopulations of trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons. Mechanoreceptors with myelinated fibers were identified by NF200 immunoreactivity. We also conducted Ca2+-imaging experiments to test the overlap between TRPM8 and VGLUT3 expression in mouse primary afferent neurons (PANs).

Results

The abundance of TRPM8-expressing neurons in dural afferent neurons was significantly lower than that in total TG neurons. The percentages of dural afferent neurons expressing VGLUT3 and NF200 were comparable to those of total TG neurons, respectively. TRPM8 agonist menthol evoked Ca2+ influx in less than 7% VGLUT3-expressing PANs in adult mice.

Conclusions

TG neurons expressing TRPM8, VGLUT3, and NF200 all innervate adult mouse dura. TRPM8 and VGLUT3 are expressed in distinct subpopulations of PANs in adult mice. These results provide an anatomical basis to investigate headache mechanisms in mouse models.

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