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Neal E. Mecum, Rachel Russell, Jun Lee, Cara Sullivan, Ian D. Meng; Optogenetic Inhibition of Nav1.8 Expressing Corneal Afferents Reduces Persistent Dry Eye Pain. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(14):15. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.62.14.15.
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The aim of the present study was to investigate the contribution of Nav1.8 expressing corneal afferent neurons to the presence of ongoing pain in lacrimal gland excision (LGE)-induced dry eye.
The proton pump archaerhodopsin-3/eGFP (ArchT/eGFP) was conditionally expressed in corneal afferents using Nav1.8-cre mice. Dry eye was produced by unilateral LGE. Real time place preference was assessed using a three-chamber apparatus. A neutral, unlit center chamber was flanked by one illuminated with a control light and one illuminated with an ArchT activating light. For real-time preference, animals were placed in the neutral chamber and tracked over five 10-minute sessions, with the lights turned on during the second and fourth sessions. In other studies, movement was tracked over three 10-minute sessions (the lights turned on only during the second session), with animals tested once per day over the course of 4 days. A local anesthetic was used to examine the role of ongoing corneal afferent activity in producing place preference.
The corneal afferent nerves and trigeminal ganglion cell bodies showed a robust eGFP signal in Nav1.8-cre;ArchT/eGFP mice. After LGE, Nav1.8-cre;ArchT/eGFP mice demonstrated a preference for the ArchT activating light paired chamber. Preference was prevented with pre-application to the cornea of a local anesthetic. Nav1.8-cre;ArchT/eGFP mice with sham surgery and LGE wild-type control mice did not develop preference.
Results indicate LGE-induced persistent, ongoing pain, driven by Nav1.8 expressing corneal afferents. Inhibition of these neurons represents a potential strategy for treating ongoing dry eye-induced pain.
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