By using immunohistochemical staining for FOS protein in the spinal cord, the role of capsaicin receptors on the sciatic nerve was investigated. After topical application of capsaicin (1%) to the sciatic nerve, FOS-like immunoreactive (FOS-LI) neurons were observed, chiefly in the superficial laminae of the lumbar dorsal horn. Topical application of capsazepine (5%) or lidocaine (2%) to the sciatic nerve for 15 min before the application of capsaicin reduced the number of FOS-LI neurons in the superficial dorsal horn (by 83.2 ± 1.7 and 32.4 ± 1.2%, respectively). One week after pretreatment of the sciatic nerve with colchicine, the number of FOS-LI neurons induced by capsaicin was greatly decreased (by 74.6 ± 1.7%). Given that FOS protein expression after peripheral noxious stimulation is found in a location similar to that in the present study, our results indicate that the capsaicin receptor on the sciatic nerve is involved in the transmission of noxious information.

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