ω-Conotoxin inhibition of excitatory synaptic transmission evoked by dorsal root stimulation in rat superficial dorsal horn
A number of ω-conotoxins are potent and selective antagonists of N-type voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) and are potentially effective as analgesic agents. ω-Conotoxins CVID and CVIB, venom peptides from Conus catus, inhibit N-type and N/P/Q-type VGCCs, respectively, in rat dorsal root ganglion sensory neurons. In the present study, we tested the effects of five different ω-conotoxins, CVID, CVIB, MVIIA, MVIIC and GVIA, on excitatory synaptic transmission between primary afferents and dorsal horn superficial lamina neurons of rat spinal cord. The N-type VGCC antagonists CVID (200 nM) and MVIIA (500 nM) completely and irreversibly inhibited excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in the dorsal horn superficial lamina. The N- and P/Q-type VGCC antagonist CVIB (200 nM) reversibly reduced evoked EPSC amplitude an average of 34 ± 8%, whereas MVIIC (200 nM) had no effect on excitatory synaptic transmission. In neurons receiving polysynaptic input, CVIB reduced both the EPSC amplitude and the "success rate" calculated as the relative number of primary afferent stimulations that resulted in postsynaptic responses. These results indicate that (i) the analgesic action of ω-conotoxins that antagonise N-type VGCCs may be attributed to inhibition of neurotransmission between primary afferents and superficial dorsal horn neurons, (ii) nociceptive synaptic transmission between primary afferents and superficial lamina neurons is mediated predominantly by N-type VGCCs, and (iii) in contrast to the irreversible inhibition by CVID, MVIIA and GVIA, the inhibition of excitatory monosynaptic transmission by CVIB is reversible.