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Piezo2 Mediates Low-Threshold Mechanically Evoked Pain in the Cornea.

Jorge Fernández-Trillo, Danny Florez-Paz, Almudena Íñigo-Portugués, Omar González-González, Ana Gómez del Campo, Alejandro González, Félix Viana, Carlos Belmonte, and Ana Gomis.

The Journal of Neuroscience 40:8976-8993
doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0247-20.2020
Published: 2020 Nov 18

The cornea is highly vulnerable to injury by external mechanical forces, with serious consequences on vision and health. Fernández-Trillo et al. have shown the expression of Piezo2, the primary molecular sensor mediating touch, in nociceptive corneal neurons. Genetic elimination of Piezo2 produced a marked reduction in the mechanosensitivity of the peripheral corneal nerve terminals of these neurons, thus suggesting that Piezo2 participates in the detection of low-intensity but already harmful mechanical stimuli acting on the eye surface. These observations open the way to the topical pharmacological modulation of Piezo2 as a potential therapy to relief corneal unpleasant sensations and pain accompanying many ocular surface disorders.

Z-stacked confocal micrograph of a whole-mount cornea from a TRPV1-GFP mouse. The image shows one of the points where sub-epithelial nerves traverse the basal lamina and divide into thinner sub-basal nerves (leashes) running in parallel for long distances beneath the basal epithelium cells. Coimmunostaining of Piezo2 and TRPV1 is observed at the penetration point. Nerves were immunolabeled with anti-ß-III tubulin (red), anti-GFP (green) and anti-Piezo2 (white) antibodies. Nuclei of epithelial cells are stained with Hoechst 33342 (in blue).
Image: Almudena Iñigo-Portugués

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