Acute capsaicin injection increases nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase staining independent of Fos activation in the rat dorsolateral periaqueductal gray
The mesencephalic dorsolateral periaqueductal gray (dlPAG) mediates different modalities of aversive behaviors including pain and nociception and is anatomically delineated from other columns of the PAG by its content of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase (NADPH-d). In many brain regions, neuronal NADPH-d is a nitric oxide (NO) synthase (NOS) and NO production mediates many nociceptive and aversive behavioral responses. The aim of this study was to determine how the noxious stimulant capsaicin affects intracellular dynamics in the dlPAG evidenced by Fos protein immunoreactivity (index of intracellular activation) and the NADPH-d reactivity. The basic hypothesis tested was that the effect of systemic capsaicin administration involved activation of the NO-producing machinery in the dlPAG. Compared to vehicle, capsaicin (50mg/kg, subcutaneous) significantly increased NADPH-d reactivity and Fos expression along the dlPAG neuraxis. However, less than one percent of the capsaicin-induced Fos activation occurred in NADPH-d-positive cells. This suggests that different intracellular mechanisms involving NO and activation of at least one other transmitter substance underlie the effects of capsaicin in the dlPAG. Although NADPH-d is a marker for constitutive NOS, only about two-thirds of the NADPH-d-positive neurons in the dlPAG were colocalized with neuronal NOS immunoreactive cells. This observation suggests that in contrast to other brain regions, neuronal NOS is unlikely to account for all NADPH-d activity in the dlPAG. Taken together, the present results show that the effect of capsaicin requires activation of at least one other transmitter and NADPH-d-dependent NO synthesis involving, but not limited to, the neuronal NOS isoform.