Pulpitis increases the proportion of atypical nodes of Ranvier in human dental pulp axons without a change in Nav1.6 sodium channel expression

S. Luo, G. M. Perry, S. R. Levinson, M. A. Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Studies show a change in sodium channel (NaCh) expression after inflammatory lesions, and this change is implicated in the generation of pain states. We are using the extracted human tooth to study NaCh expression and here examine the expression of the major NaCh isoform located at nodes of Ranvier, Nav1.6, in normal and painful samples. Pulpal sections were double-labeled with human-specific Nav1.6 antibody and caspr antibody (paranodal protein to identify nodes). Confocal microscopy was used to obtain a z-series of optically-sectioned images of axon bundles surrounded by inflammatory cells in painful samples and of similar regions within the coronal pulp of normal samples. Nodes contained within these images were classified as typical or atypical as based on caspr staining relationships, and NIH ImageJ software was used to quantify the size and immunofluorescence staining intensity of Nav1.6 accumulations at these nodal sites. Results show no significant difference in the size or immunofluorescence staining intensity of Nav1.6 nodal accumulations located at either typical or atypical nodal sites (heminodes and split nodes) within axons in normal samples when compared to painful samples (n=9/each group). In contrast, there was a highly significant decrease in the proportion of typical nodal sites and an increase in atypical nodal sites in painful samples when compared to normal samples. The unchanged expression of Nav1.6 contrasts to our previous finding that showed an increased expression of Nav1.7 at both typical and atypical nodal sites within painful samples. Together, these findings suggest there is not a simple replacement of one isoform with another, but rather an increased co-expression of multiple isoforms at both intact and remodeling/demyelinating (atypical) nodal sites within the painful dental pulp. The resultant heterogeneous population of isoforms may produce unique axonal excitability properties that could contribute to spontaneous pain sensations that are common in toothache.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1881-1887
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Caspr
  • Inflammatory pain
  • Pulpitis
  • Trigeminal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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