Activin induces tactile allodynia and increases calcitonin gene-related peptide after peripheral inflammation

Pin Xu, Charles Van Slambrouck, Liliana Berti-Mattera, Alison K. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is a sensory neuropeptide important in inflammatory pain that conveys pain information centrally and dilates blood vessels peripherally. Previous studies indicate that activin A increases CGRP-immunoreactive (IR) sensory neurons in vitro, and following wound, activin A protein increases in the skin and more neurons have detectable CGRP expression in the innervating dorsal root ganglion (DRG). These data suggest some adult sensory neurons respond to activin A or other target-derived factors with increased neuropeptide expression. This study was undertaken to test whether activin contributes to inflammatory pain and increased CGRP and to learn which neurons retained plasticity. After adjuvant-induced inflammation, activin mRNA, but not NGF or glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor, increased in the skin. To examine which DRG neurons increased CGRP immunoreactivity, retrograde tracer-labeled cutaneous neurons were characterized after inflammation. The proportion and size of tracer-labeled DRG neurons with detectable CGRP increased after inflammation. One-third of CGRP-IR neurons that appear after inflammation also had isolectin B4 binding, suggesting that some mechanoreceptors became CGRP-IR. In contrast, the increased proportion of CGRP-IR neurons did not appear to come from RT97-IR neurons. To learn whether central projections were altered after inflammation, CGRP immunoreactivity in the protein kinase Cγ-IR lamina IIi was quantified and found to increase. Injection of activin A protein alone caused robust tactile allodynia and increased CGRP in the DRG. Together, these data support the hypothesis that inflammation and skin changes involving activin A cause some sensory neurons to increase CGRP expression and pain responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9227-9235
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 5 2005


  • Activin
  • CGRP
  • Inflammation
  • NGF
  • Sensory neurons
  • Tactile allodynia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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