Zhang, X (reprint author), Chinese Acad Sci, Inst Neurosci, Shanghai Inst Biol Sci, 320 Yue Yang Rd, Shanghai 200031, Peoples R China,email@example.com
B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) has been known to be secreted from cardiac myocytes and activate its receptor, natriuretic peptide receptor-A (NPR-A), to reduce ventricular fibrosis. However, the function of BNP/NPR-Apathway in the somatic sensory system has been unknown. In the present study, we report a novel function of BNP in pain modulation. Using microarray and immunoblot analyses, we found that BNP and NPR-A were expressed in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) of rats and upregulated after intraplantar injection of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA). Immunohistochemistry showed that BNP was expressed in calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)containing small neurons and IB4 (isolectin B4)-positive neurons, whereas NPR-A was present in CGRP-containing neurons. Application of BNP reduced the firing frequency of small DRG neurons in the presence of glutamate through opening large-conductance Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channels (BK(Ca) channels). Furthermore, intrathecal injection of BNP yielded inhibitory effects on formalin-induced flinching behavior and CFA-induced thermal hyperalgesia in rats. Blockade of BNP signaling by BNP antibodies or cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG) inhibitor KT5823 [(9S, 10R, 12R)-2,3,9,10,11,12-hexahydro-10-methoxy-2,9-dimethyl-1-oxo-9,12-epoxy-1H-diindolo[1,2,3-fg:3',2',1'-kl]pyrrolo[3,4-i][1,6]benzodiazocine-10-carboxylic acid methyl ester] impaired the recovery from CFA-induced thermal hyperalgesia. Thus, BNP negatively regulates nociceptive transmission through presynaptic receptor NPR-A, and activation of the BNP/NPR-A/PKG/BK(Ca) channel pathway in nociceptive afferent neurons could be a potential strategy for inflammatory pain therapy.