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Jiucheng He, Thang Luong Pham, Azucena H. Kakazu, Haydee E. P. Bazan; Remodeling of Substance P Sensory Nerves and Transient Receptor Potential Melastatin 8 (TRPM8) Cold Receptors After Corneal Experimental Surgery. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(7):2449-2460. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.18-26384.
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To investigate changes in corneal nerves positive to substance P (SP) and transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) and gene expression in the trigeminal ganglia (TG) following corneal surgery to unveil peripheral nerve mechanism of induced dry eye-like pain (DELP).
Surgery was performed on mice by removing the central epithelial and anterior stromal nerves. Mice were euthanized at different times up to 15 weeks. Immunostaining was performed with TRPM8, SP, or protein gene product 9.5 (PGP9.5) antibodies, and epithelial nerve densities were calculated. The origin of TRPM8- and SP-TG neurons were analyzed by retrograde tracing. Gene expression in TG was studied by real-time PCR analysis.
SP-positive epithelial corneal nerves were more abundant than TRPM8 and were expressed in different TG neurons. After injury, epithelial nerve regeneration occurs in two distinct stages. An early regeneration of the remaining epithelial bundles reached the highest density on day 3 and then rapidly degraded. From day 5, the epithelial nerves originated from the underlying stromal nerves were still lower than normal levels by week 15. The SP- and TRPM8-positive nerve fibers followed the same pattern as the total nerves. TRPM8-positive terminals increased slowly and reached only half of normal values by 3 months. Corneal sensitivity gradually increased and reached normal values on day 12. Corneal injury also induced significant changes in TG gene expression, decreasing trpm8 and tac1 genes.
Abnormal SP expression, low amounts of TRPM8 terminals, and hypersensitive nerve response occur long after the injury and changes in gene expression in the TG suggest a contribution to the pathogenesis of corneal surgery-induced DELP.
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