Computational modeling to study the impact of changes in Nav1.8 sodium channel on neuropathic pain

Peter Kan, Yong Fang Zhu, Junling Ma, Gurmit Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Nav1.8 expression is restricted to sensory neurons; it was hypothesized that aberrant expression and function of this channel at the site of injury contributed to pathological pain. However, the specific contributions of Nav1.8 to neuropathic pain are not as clear as its role in inflammatory pain. The aim of this study is to understand how Nav1.8 present in peripheral sensory neurons regulate neuronal excitability and induce various electrophysiological features on neuropathic pain. Methods: To study the effect of changes in sodium channel Nav1.8 kinetics, Hodgkin–Huxley type conductance-based models of spiking neurons were constructed using the NEURON v8.2 simulation software. We constructed a single-compartment model of neuronal soma that contained Nav1.8 channels with the ionic mechanisms adapted from some existing small DRG neuron models. We then validated and compared the model with our experimental data from in vivo recordings on soma of small dorsal root ganglion (DRG) sensory neurons in animal models of neuropathic pain (NEP). Results: We show that Nav1.8 is an important parameter for the generation and maintenance of abnormal neuronal electrogenesis and hyperexcitability. The typical increased excitability seen is dominated by a left shift in the steady state of activation of this channel and is further modulated by this channel’s maximum conductance and steady state of inactivation. Therefore, modified action potential shape, decreased threshold, and increased repetitive firing of sensory neurons in our neuropathic animal models may be orchestrated by these modulations on Nav1.8. Conclusion: Computational modeling is a novel strategy to understand the generation of chronic pain. In this study, we highlight that changes to the channel functions of Nav1.8 within the small DRG neuron may contribute to neuropathic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1327986
JournalFrontiers in Computational Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2024


  • computational modeling
  • DRG
  • electrophysiology
  • Nav1.8
  • neuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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