Functional profiles of SCN9A variants in dorsal root ganglion neurons and superior cervical ganglion neurons correlate with autonomic symptoms in small fibre neuropathy

Chongyang Han, Janneke G J Hoeijmakers, Shujun Liu, Monique M. Gerrits, Rene H M Te Morsche, Giuseppe Lauria, Sulayman D. Dib-Hajj, Joost P H Drenth, Catharina G. Faber, Ingemar S J Merkies, Stephen G. Waxman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Patients with small fibre neuropathy typically manifest pain in distal extremities and severe autonomic dysfunction. However, occasionally patients present with minimal autonomic symptoms. The basis for this phenotypic difference is not understood. Sodium channel Nav1.7, encoded by the SCN9A gene, is preferentially expressed in the peripheral nervous system within sensory dorsal root ganglion and sympathetic ganglion neurons and their small diameter peripheral axons. We recently reported missense substitutions in SCN9A that encode functional Nav1.7 variants in 28 of patients with biopsy-confirmed small fibre neuropathy. Two patients with biopsy-confirmed small fibre neuropathy manifested minimal autonomic dysfunction unlike the other six patients in this series, and both of these patients carry the Nav1.7/R185H variant, presenting the opportunity to compare variants associated with extreme ends of a spectrum from minimal to severe autonomic dysfunction. Herein, we show by voltage-clamp that R185H variant channels enhance resurgent currents within dorsal root ganglion neurons and show by current-clamp that R185H renders dorsal root ganglion neurons hyperexcitable. We also show that in contrast, R185H variant channels do not produce detectable changes when studied by voltage-clamp within sympathetic neurons of the superior cervical ganglion, and have no effect on the excitability of these cells. As a comparator, we studied the Nav1.7 variant I739V, identified in three patients with small fibre neuropathy characterized by severe autonomic dysfunction as well as neuropathic pain, and show that this variant impairs channel slow inactivation within both dorsal root ganglion and superior cervical ganglion neurons, and renders dorsal root ganglion neurons hyperexcitable and superior cervical ganglion neurons hypoexcitable. Thus, we show that R185H, from patients with minimal autonomic dysfunction, does not produce detectable changes in the properties of sympathetic ganglion neurons, while I739V, from patients with severe autonomic dysfunction, has a profound effect on excitability of sympathetic ganglion neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2613-2628
Number of pages16
JournalBrain
Volume135
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • current-clamp
  • pain
  • sodium channel
  • voltage-clamp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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