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Omar González-González, Federico Bech, Juana Gallar, Jesús Merayo-Lloves, Carlos Belmonte; Functional Properties of Sensory Nerve Terminals of the Mouse Cornea. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(1):404-415. doi: 10.1167/iovs.16-20033.
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To define the firing properties of sensory nerve terminals innervating the adult mouse cornea in response to external stimuli of differing modality.
Extracellular electrical activity of single corneal sensory nerve terminals was recorded in excised eyes of C57BL/6J mice. Eyes were placed in a recording chamber and were continuously superfused with warm saline solution. Nerve terminal impulse (NTI) activity was recorded by means of a glass pipette (tip ∼ 50 μm), applied on the corneal surface. Nerve terminal impulse discharges were stored in a computer for offline analysis.
Three functionally distinct populations of nerve terminals were identified in the mouse cornea. Pure mechanonociceptor terminals (9.5%) responded phasically and only to mechanical stimuli. Polymodal nociceptor terminals (41.1%) were tonically activated by heat and hyperosmolal solutions (850 mOsm·kg−1), mechanical force, and/or TRPV1 and TRPA1 agonists (capsaicin and allyl isothiocyanate [AITC], respectively). Cold-sensitive terminals (49.4%) responded to cooling. Approximately two-thirds of them fired continuously at 34°C and responded vigorously to small temperature reductions, being classified as high-background activity, low-threshold (HB-LT) cold thermoreceptor terminals. The remaining one-third exhibited very low ongoing activity at 34°C and responded weakly to intense cooling, being named low-background activity, high-threshold (LB-HT) cold thermoreceptor terminals.
The mouse cornea is innervated by trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons that respond to the same stimulus modalities as corneal receptors of other mammalian species. Mechano- and polymodal endings underlie detection of mechanical and chemical noxious stimuli while HB-LT and LB-HT cold thermoreceptors appear to be responsible for basal and irritation-evoked tearing and blinking, respectively.
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