Heterogeneous presynaptic distribution of monoacylglycerol lipase, a multipotent regulator of nociceptive circuits in the mouse spinal cord

Eszter Horváth, Stephen G Woodhams, Rita Nyilas, Christopher M Henstridge, Masanobu Kano, Kenji Sakimura, Masahiko Watanabe, István Katona

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Abstract

Monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL) is a multifunctional serine hydrolase, which terminates anti-nociceptive endocannabinoid signaling and promotes pro-nociceptive prostaglandin signaling. Accordingly, both acute nociception and its sensitization in chronic pain models are prevented by systemic or focal spinal inhibition of MGL activity. Despite its analgesic potential, the neurobiological substrates of beneficial MGL blockade have remained unexplored. Therefore, we examined the regional, cellular and subcellular distribution of MGL in spinal circuits involved in nociceptive processing. All immunohistochemical findings obtained with light, confocal or electron microscopy were validated in MGL-knockout mice. Immunoperoxidase staining revealed a highly concentrated accumulation of MGL in the dorsal horn, especially in superficial layers. Further electron microscopic analysis uncovered that the majority of MGL-immunolabeling is found in axon terminals forming either asymmetric glutamatergic or symmetric γ-aminobutyric acid/glycinergic synapses in laminae I/IIo. In line with this presynaptic localization, analysis of double-immunofluorescence staining by confocal microscopy showed that MGL colocalizes with neurochemical markers of peptidergic and non-peptidergic nociceptive terminals, and also with markers of local excitatory or inhibitory interneurons. Interestingly, the ratio of MGL-immunolabeling was highest in calcitonin gene-related peptide-positive peptidergic primary afferents, and the staining intensity of nociceptive terminals was significantly reduced in MGL-knockout mice. These observations highlight the spinal nociceptor synapse as a potential anatomical site for the analgesic effects of MGL blockade. Moreover, the presence of MGL in additional terminal types raises the possibility that MGL may play distinct regulatory roles in synaptic endocannabinoid or prostaglandin signaling according to its different cellular locations in the dorsal horn pain circuitry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-434
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Volume39
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2014

Keywords

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Monoacylglycerol Lipases
  • Nociception
  • Organ Specificity
  • Presynaptic Terminals
  • Sensory Receptor Cells
  • Spinal Cord

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