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Painful nerve injury increases plasma membrane Ca2+-ATPase activity in axotomized sensory neurons

Geza Gemes12, Katherine D Oyster1, Bin Pan1, Hsiang-En Wu1, Madhavi Latha Yadav Bangaru1, Qingbo Tang1 and Quinn H Hogan13*

Author Affiliations

1 Medical College of Wisconsin, Department of Anesthesiology, 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA

2 Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 29, 8036 Graz, Austria

3 Zablocki VA Medical Center, 5000 W. National Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53295, USA

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Molecular Pain 2012, 8:46  doi:10.1186/1744-8069-8-46

Published: 19 June 2012



The plasma membrane Ca2+-ATPase (PMCA) is the principal means by which sensory neurons expel Ca2+ and thereby regulate the concentration of cytoplasmic Ca2+ and the processes controlled by this critical second messenger. We have previously found that painful nerve injury decreases resting cytoplasmic Ca2+ levels and activity-induced cytoplasmic Ca2+ accumulation in axotomized sensory neurons. Here we examine the contribution of PMCA after nerve injury in a rat model of neuropathic pain.


PMCA function was isolated in dissociated sensory neurons by blocking intracellular Ca2+ sequestration with thapsigargin, and cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration was recorded with Fura-2 fluorometry. Compared to control neurons, the rate at which depolarization-induced Ca2+ transients resolved was increased in axotomized neurons after spinal nerve ligation, indicating accelerated PMCA function. Electrophysiological recordings showed that blockade of PMCA by vanadate prolonged the action potential afterhyperpolarization, and also decreased the rate at which neurons could fire repetitively.


We found that PMCA function is elevated in axotomized sensory neurons, which contributes to neuronal hyperexcitability. Accelerated PMCA function in the primary sensory neuron may contribute to the generation of neuropathic pain, and thus its modulation could provide a new pathway for peripheral treatment of post-traumatic neuropathic pain.

PMCA; Dorsal root ganglion; Neuron; Calcium; Nerve injury