Chemosensory information processing between keratinocytes and trigeminal neurons [Signal Transduction]

May 1st, 2014 by Sondersorg, A. C., Busse, D., Kyereme, J., Rothermel, M., Neufang, G., Gisselmann, G., Hatt, H., Benecke, H.

Trigeminal fibers terminate within the facial mucosa and skin and transmit tactile, proprioceptive, chemical, and nociceptive sensations. Trigeminal sensations can arise from the direct stimulation of intraepithelial free nerve endings or indirectly through information transmission from adjacent cells at the peripheral innervation area. For mechanical and thermal cues, communication processes between skin cells and somatosensory neurons have already been suggested. High concentrations of most odors typically provoke trigeminal sensations in vivo but surprisingly fail to activate trigeminal neuron monocultures. This fact favors the hypothesis that epithelial cells may participate in chemodetection and subsequently transmit signals to neighboring trigeminal fibers. Keratinocytes, the major cell type of the epidermis, express various receptors that enable reactions to multiple environmental stimuli. Here, using a co-culture approach, we show for the first time that exposure to the odorant chemicals induces a chemical communication between human HaCaT keratinocytes and mouse trigeminal neurons. Moreover, a supernatant analysis of stimulated keratinocytes and subsequent blocking experiments with PPADS revealed that ATP serves as the mediating transmitter molecule released from skin cells after odor stimulation. We show that the ATP release resulting from Javanol stimulation of keratinocytes was mediated by pannexins. Consequently, keratinocytes act as chemosensors linking the environment and the trigeminal system via ATP signaling.