The Journal Of Physiology
Chronic muscle ischemia leads to accumulation of lactic acid and other inflammatory mediators with a subsequent drop in interstitial pH. Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs), expressed in thin muscle afferents, sense the decrease in pH and evoke a pressor reflex known to increase mean arterial pressure. The naturally occurring endomorphins are also released by primary afferents under ischemic conditions. We examined whether high affinity mu opioid receptor (MOR) agonists, endomorphin-1 (E-1) and -2 (E-2), modulate ASIC currents and the lactic acid-mediated pressor reflex. In rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons, exposure to E-2 in acidic solutions significantly potentiated ASIC currents when compared to acidic solutions alone. The potentiation was significantly greater in DRG neurons isolated from rats whose femoral arteries were ligated for 72 hr. Sustained ASIC current potentiation was also observed in neurons pretreated with pertussis toxin, an uncoupler of G proteins and MOR. The endomorphin-mediated potentiation was a result of a leftward shift of the activation curve to more basic pH values and a slight shift of the inactivation curve to more acidic pH values. Intra-arterial co-administration of lactic acid and E-2 led to a significantly greater pressor reflex than lactic acid alone in the presence of naloxone. Finally, E-2 effects were inhibited by pretreatment with the ASIC3 blocker (APETx2) and enhanced by pretreatment with the ASIC1a blocker psalmotoxin-1. These findings have uncovered a novel role of endomorphins by which the opioids can enhance the lactic acid-mediated reflex increase in arterial pressure that is MOR stimulation-independent and APETx2-sensitive. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.