Expression and properties of hyperpolarization-activated current in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons with known sensory function

L. L. Gao, S. McMullan, L. Djouhri, C. Acosta, A. A. Harper, S. N. Lawson*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    40 Citations (Scopus)


    The hyperpolarization-activated current (Ih) has been implicated in nociception/pain, but its expression levels in nociceptors remained unknown. We recorded Ih magnitude and properties by voltage clamp from dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in vivo, after classifying them as nociceptive or low-threshold-mechanoreceptors (LTMs) and as having C-, Aδ- or Aα/β-conduction velocities (CVs). For both nociceptors and LTMs, Ih amplitude and Ih density (at -100 mV) were significantly positively correlated with CV. Median Ih magnitudes and Ih density in neuronal subgroups were respectively: muscle spindle afferents (MSAs): -4.6 nA, -33 pA pF-1; cutaneous Aα/β LTMs: -2.2 nA, -20 pA pF-1; Aβ-nociceptors: -2.6 nA, -21 pA pF-1; both Aδ-LTMs and nociceptors: -1.3 nA, ∼-14 pA pF-1; C-LTMs: -0.4 nA, -7.6 pA pF-1; and C-nociceptors: -0.26 nA, -5 pA pF-1. Ih activation slow time constants (slow τ values) were strongly correlated with fast τ values; both were shortest in MSAs. Most neurons had τ values consistent with HCN1-related Ih; others had τ values closer to HCN1+HCN2 channels, or HCN2 in the presence of cAMP. In contrast, median half-activation voltages (V0.5) of -80 to -86 mV for neuronal subgroups suggest contributions of HCN2 to Ih. τ values were unrelated to CV but were inversely correlated with Ih and Ih density for all non-MSA LTMs, and for Aδ-nociceptors. From activation curves ∼2-7% of Ih would be activated at normal membrane potentials. The high Ih may be important for excitability of A-nociceptors (responsible for sharp/pricking-type pain) and Aα/β-LTMs (tactile sensations and proprioception). Underlying HCN expression in these subgroups therefore needs to be determined. Altered Ih expression and/or properties (e.g. in chronic/pathological pain states) may influence both nociceptor and LTM excitability.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4691-4705
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Physiology
    Issue number19
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


    Dive into the research topics of 'Expression and properties of hyperpolarization-activated current in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons with known sensory function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this