Central sensitization (CS) is characteristic of difficult to treat painful conditions, such as fibromyalgia and neuropathies and have sexual dimorphism involved. The calcium influx in nociceptive neurons is a key trigger for CS and the role of Cav2.1 and Cav2.2 voltage gated calcium channels (VGCC) in this role were evidenced with the use of ω-agatoxin IVA and ω-agatoxin MVIIA blockers, respectively. However, the participation of the α1 subunit of the voltage-gated channel Cav2.3, which conducts R-type currents, in CS is unknown. Furthermore, the role of sexual differences in painful conditions is still poorly understood. Thus, we investigated the role of Cav2.3 in capsaicin-induced secondary hyperalgesia in mice, which serve as a CS model predictive of the efficacy of novel analgesic drugs. Capsaicin injection in C57BL/6 mice caused secondary hyperalgesia from one to five hours after injection, and the effects were similar in male and female mice. In female but not male mice, intrathecal treatment with the Cav2.3 inhibitor SNX-482 partially and briefly reversed secondary hyperalgesia at a dose (300 pmol/site) that did not cause adverse effects. Moreover, Cav2.3 expression in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and spinal cord was reduced by intrathecal treatment with an antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) targeting Cav2.3 in female and male mice. However, ASO treatment was able to provide a robust and durable prevention of secondary hyperalgesia caused by capsaicin in female mice, but not in male mice. Thus, our results demonstrate that Cav2.3 inhibition, especially in female mice, has a relevant impact on a model of CS. Our results provide a proof of concept for Cav2.3 as a molecular target. In addition, the result associated to the role of differences in painful conditions linked to sex opens a range of possibilities to be explored and needs more attention. Thus, the relevance of testing Cav2.3 inhibition or knockdown in clinically relevant pain models is needed.
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