Background: Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a neuropeptide released from trigeminal nerves, is implicated in the underlying pathology of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Elevated levels of CGRP in the joint capsule correlate with inflammation and pain. CGRP mediates neurogenic inflammation in peripheral tissues by increasing blood flow, recruiting immune cells, and activating sensory neurons. The goal of this study was to investigate the capability of CGRP to promote peripheral and central sensitization in a model of TMD. Results: Temporal changes in protein expression in trigeminal ganglia and spinal trigeminal nucleus were determined by immunohistochemistry following injection of CGRP in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) capsule of male Sprague-Dawley rats. CGRP stimulated expression of the active forms of the MAP kinases p38 and ERK, and PKA in trigeminal ganglia at 2 and 24 hours. CGRP also caused a sustained increase in the expression of c-Fos neurons in the spinal trigeminal nucleus. In contrast, levels of P2X3 in spinal neurons were only significantly elevated at 2 hours in response to CGRP. In addition, CGRP stimulated expression of GFAP in astrocytes and OX-42 in microglia at 2 and 24 hours post injection. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that an elevated level of CGRP in the joint, which is associated with TMD, stimulate neuronal and glial expression of proteins implicated in the development of peripheral and central sensitization. Based on our findings, we propose that inhibition of CGRP-mediated activation of trigeminal neurons and glial cells with selective non-peptide CGRP receptor antagonists would be beneficial in the treatment of TMD.



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© 2011 The authors; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/20), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original oork is properly cited.

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Molecular Pain