A fundamental characteristic of neural circuits is the capacity for plasticity in response to experience. Neural plasticity is associated with the development of chronic pain disorders. In this study, we investigated 1) brain resting state functional connectivity (FC) differences between patients with chronic low back pain (cLBP) and matched healthy controls (HC); 2) FC differences within the cLBP patients as they experienced different levels of endogenous low back pain evoked by exercise maneuvers, and 3) morphometric differences between cLBP patients and matched HC. We found the dynamic character of FC in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) in cLBP patients, i.e., S1 FC decreased when the patients experienced low intensity LBP as compared with matched healthy controls, and FC at S1 increased when cLBP patients experienced high intensity LBP as compared with the low intensity condition. In addition, we also found increased cortical thickness in the bilateral S1 somatotopically associated with the lower back in cLBP patients as compared to healthy controls. Our results provide evidence of structural plasticity co-localized with areas exhibiting FC changes in S1 in cLBP patients.
Chronic low back pain; fMRI; Functional connectivity; Cortical thickness; Primary somatosensory cortex
Pain, including arthritic pain, has a negative affective component and is often associated with anxiety and depression. However, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs) show limited effectiveness in pain. The amygdala plays a key role in the emotional-affective component of pain, pain modulation and affective disorders. Neuroplasticity in the basolateral and central amygdala (BLA and CeA, respectively) correlate positively with pain behaviors. Evidence suggests that serotonin receptor subtype 5-HT2CR in the amygdala contributes critically to anxiogenic behavior and anxiety disorders. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that 5-HT2CR in the amygdala accounts for the limited effectiveness of SSRIs in reducing pain behaviors and that 5-HT2CR blockade in the amygdala renders SSRIs effective.
Nocifensive reflexes, vocalizations and anxiety-like behavior were measured in adult male Sprague–Dawley rats. Behavioral experiments were done in sham controls and in rats with arthritis induced by kaolin/carrageenan injections into one knee joint. Rats received a systemic (i.p.) administration of an SSRI (fluvoxamine, 30 mg/kg) or vehicle (sterile saline) and stereotaxic application of a selective 5-HT2CR antagonist (SB242084, 10 μM) or vehicle (ACSF) into BLA or CeA by microdialysis. Compared to shams, arthritic rats showed decreased hindlimb withdrawal thresholds (increased reflexes), increased duration of audible and ultrasonic vocalizations, and decreased open-arm choices in the elevated plus maze test suggesting anxiety-like behavior. Fluvoxamine (i.p.) or SB242084 (intra-BLA) alone had no significant effect, but their combination inhibited the pain-related increase of vocalizations and anxiety-like behavior without affecting spinal reflexes. SB242084 applied into the CeA in combination with systemic fluvoxamine had no effect on vocalizations and spinal reflexes.
The data suggest that 5-HT2CR in the amygdala, especially in the BLA, limits the effectiveness of SSRIs to inhibit pain-related emotional-affective behaviors.
Amygdala; Pain; Serotonin; SSRI; 5-HT2CR; Emotional-affective behavior; Anxiety
NaV1.7 is preferentially expressed, at relatively high levels, in peripheral neurons, and is often referred to as a “peripheral” sodium channel, and NaV1.7-specific blockers are under study as potential pain therapeutics which might be expected to have minimal CNS side effects. However, occasional reports of patients with NaV1.7 gain-of-function mutations and apparent hypothalamic dysfunction have appeared. The two sodium channels previously studied within the rat hypothalamic supraoptic nucleus, NaV1.2 and NaV1.6, display up-regulated expression in response to osmotic stress.
Here we show that NaV1.7 is present within vasopressin-producing neurons and oxytocin-producing neurons within the rat hypothalamus, and demonstrate that the level of Nav1.7 immunoreactivity is increased in these cells in response to osmotic stress.
NaV1.7 is present within neurosecretory neurons of rat supraoptic nucleus, where the level of immunoreactivity is dynamic, increasing in response to osmotic stress. Whether NaV1.7 levels are up-regulated within the human hypothalamus in response to environmental factors or stress, and whether NaV1.7 plays a functional role in human hypothalamus, is not yet known. Until these questions are resolved, the present findings suggest the need for careful assessment of hypothalamic function in patients with NaV1.7 mutations, especially when subjected to stress, and for monitoring of hypothalamic function as NaV1.7 blocking agents are studied.
Hypothalamus; Nav1.7; Salt-loading; Supraoptic nucleus
CRPS is a painful, debilitating, and often-chronic condition characterized by various sensory, motor, and vascular disturbances. Despite many years of study, current treatments are limited by our understanding of the underlying mechanisms. Little is known on the molecular level concerning changes in gene expression supporting the nociceptive sensitization commonly observed in CRPS limbs, or how those changes might evolve over time.
We used a well-characterized mouse tibial fracture/cast immobilization model of CRPS to study molecular, vascular and nociceptive changes. We observed that the acute (3 weeks after fracture) and chronic (7 weeks after fracture) phases of CRPS-like changes in our model were accompanied by unique alterations in spinal gene expression corresponding to distinct canonical pathways. For the acute phase, top regulated pathways were: chemokine signaling, glycogen degradation, and cAMP-mediated signaling; while for the chronic phase, the associated pathways were: coagulation system, granzyme A signaling, and aryl hydrocarbon receptor signaling. We then focused on the role of CcL2, a chemokine that we showed to be upregulated at the mRNA and protein levels in spinal cord tissue in our model. We confirmed its association with the nociceptive sensitization displayed in this model by demonstrating that the spinal but not peripheral administration of a CCR2 antagonist (RS504393) in CRPS animals could decrease mechanical allodynia. The spinal administration of CcL2 itself resulted in mechanical allodynia in control mice.
Our data provide a global look at the transcriptional changes in the spinal cord that accompany the acute and chronic phases of CRPS as modeled in mice. Furthermore, it follows up on one of the top-regulated genes coding for CcL2 and validates its role in regulating nociception in the fracture/cast model of CRPS.
Complex regional pain syndrome; CcL2; Chemokine; Chronic pain; Spinal cord; Microarray analysis; Transcriptome; Pathway analysis
It has been demonstrated that angiotensin II (Ang II) participates in either the inhibition or the facilitation of nociceptive transmission depending on the brain area. Neuronal Ang II is locally synthesized not only in the brain, but also in the spinal cord. Though the spinal cord is an important area for the modulation of nociception, the role of spinal Ang II in nociceptive transmission remains unclear. Therefore, in order to elucidate the role of Ang II in nociceptive transmission in the spinal cord, we examined the effect of intrathecal (i.t.) administration of Ang II into mice.
I.t. administration of Ang II produced a behavioral response in mice mainly consisting of biting and/or licking of the hindpaw and the tail along with slight hindlimb scratching directed toward the flank. The behavior induced by Ang II (3 pmol) was dose-dependently inhibited by intraperitoneal injection of morphine (0.1-0.3 mg/kg), suggesting that the behavioral response is related to nociception. The nociceptive behavior was also inhibited dose-dependently by i.t. co-administration of losartan (0.3-3 nmol), an Ang II type 1 (AT1) receptor antagonist, and SB203580 (0.1-1 nmol), a p38 MAPK inhibitor. However, the Ang II type 2 (AT2) receptor antagonist PD123319, the upstream inhibitor of ERK1/2 phosphorylation U0126, and the JNK inhibitor SP600125 had no effect on Ang II-induced nociceptive behavior. Western blot analysis showed that the i.t. injection of Ang II induced phosphorylation of p38 MAPK in the lumbar dorsal spinal cord, which was inhibited by losartan, without affecting ERK1/2 and JNK. Furthermore, we found that AT1 receptor expression was relatively high in the lumbar superficial dorsal horn.
Our data show that i.t. administration of Ang II induces nociceptive behavior accompanied by the activation of p38 MAPK signaling mediated through AT1 receptors. This observation indicates that Ang II may act as a neurotransmitter and/or neuromodulator in the spinal transmission of nociceptive information.
We have previously shown a sprouting of sympathetic fibers into the upper dermis of the skin following subcutaneous injection of complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) into the hindpaw. This sprouting correlated with an increase in pain-related sensitivity. We hypothesized that this sprouting and pain-related behavior were caused by an increase in nerve growth factor (NGF) levels. In this study, we investigated whether the inhibition of mature NGF degradation, using a matrix metalloproteinase 2 and 9 (MMP-2/9) inhibitor, was sufficient to reproduce a similar phenotype.
Behavioral tests performed on male Sprague–Dawley rats at 1, 3, 7 and 14 days after intra-plantar MMP-2/9 inhibitor administration demonstrated that acute and chronic injections of the MMP-2/9 inhibitor induced sensitization, in a dose dependent manner, to mechanical, hot and cold stimuli as measured by von Frey filaments, Hargreaves and acetone tests, respectively. Moreover, the protein levels of mature NGF (mNGF) were increased, whereas the levels and enzymatic activity of matrix metalloproteinase 9 were reduced in the glabrous skin of the hind paw. MMP-2/9 inhibition also led to a robust sprouting of sympathetic fibers into the upper dermis but there were no changes in the density of peptidergic nociceptive afferents.
These findings indicate that localized MMP-2/9 inhibition provokes a pattern of sensitization and fiber sprouting comparable to that previously obtained following CFA injection. Accordingly, the modulation of endogenous NGF levels should be considered as a potential therapeutic target for the management of inflammatory pain associated with arthritis.
Matrix metalloproteinase; Nerve growth factor; Allodynia; Hyperalgesia; Sympathetic sprouting
There is considerable interest in inducing RNA interference (RNAi) in neurons to study gene function and identify new targets for disease intervention. Although short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) have been used to silence genes in neurons, in vivo delivery of RNAi remains a major challenge, especially by systemic administration. We have developed a highly efficient method for in vivo gene silencing in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) by using short hairpin RNA–expressing single-stranded adeno-associated virus 9 (ssAAV9-shRNA).
Intraperitoneal administration of ssAAV9-shRNA to neonatal mice resulted in highly effective and specific silencing of a target gene in DRG. We observed an approximately 80% reduction in target mRNA in the DRG, and 74.7% suppression of the protein was confirmed by Western blot analysis. There were no major side effects, and the suppression effect lasted for more than three months after the injection of ssAAV9-shRNA.
Although we previously showed substantial inhibition of target gene expression in DRG via intrathecal ssAAV9-shRNA administration, here we succeeded in inhibiting target gene expression in DRG neurons via intraperitoneal injection of ssAAV9-shRNA. AAV9-mediated delivery of shRNA will pave the way for creating animal models for investigating the molecular biology of the mechanisms of pain and sensory ganglionopathies.
RNA interference; Adeno-associated virus 9; Dorsal root ganglia; Blood–nerve barrier
Clinical studies indicate that patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently share comorbidity with numerous chronic pain conditions. However, the sustained effects of PTSD-like stress over time on visceral nociception and hyperalgesia have been rarely studied, and the underlying mechanisms of stress-induced modulation of visceral hyperalgesia remain elusive. The purpose of this study was to investigate the characterization of visceral nociception and hyperalgesia over time in rats exposed to PTSD-like stress, and to explore the potential role of protein kinase C gamma (PKCγ) in mediating visceral hyperalgesia following exposure to PTSD-like stress.
On day 1, the rats exposed to single-prolonged stress (SPS, an established animal model for PTSD) exhibited an analgesic response and its visceromotor response (VMR) to graded colorectal distention (CRD) at 40 and 60 mmHg was reduced compared with the control group (all P < 0.05). On day 6, the VMR returned to the baseline value. However, as early as 7 days after SPS, VMR dramatically increased compared with its baseline value and that in the controls (all P < 0.001) and this increase persisted for 28 days, with the peak on day 9. Abdominal withdrawal reflex (AWR) scores were higher in SPS rats than in controls on days 7, 9, 14, 21 and 28 (all P < 0.001). Intrathecal administration of GF109203X (an inhibitor of PKC gamma), attenuated the SPS-induced increase in both VMR and AWR scores on days 7, 14, 21 and 28 (all P < 0.05). PKCγ protein expression determined by immunofluorescence was reduced in the spinal cord within 3 days after the exposure to SPS (P < 0.01), which returned to normal levels between days 4 and 6, and significantly increased from day 7, and this increase was maintained on days 14, 21, and 28 (all P < 0.001), with the peak on day 9. In addition, Western blotting showed a consistent trend in the changes of PKCγ protein expression.
The modified SPS alters visceral sensitivity to CRD, and contributes to the maintenance of visceral hyperalgesia, which is associated with enhanced PKCγ expression in the spinal cord. Functional blockade of the PKCγ receptors attenuates SPS-induced visceral hyperalgesia. Thus, the present study identifies a specific molecular mechanism for visceral hyperalgesia which may pave the way for novel therapeutic strategies for PTSD-like conditions.
Visceral hyperalgesia; Protein kinase C gamma; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Single-prolonged stress; Colorectal distention; Visceromotor response; Spinal cord
Bilateral sagittal split ramus osteotomy (BSSRO) is a common orthognatic surgical procedure. Sensory disturbances in the inferior alveolar nerve, including hypoesthesia and dysesthesia, are frequently observed after BSSRO, even without distinct nerve injury. The mechanisms that underlie individual differences in the vulnerability to sensory disturbances have not yet been elucidated.
The present study investigated the relationships between genetic polymorphisms and the vulnerability to sensory disturbances after BSSRO in a genome-wide association study (GWAS). A total of 304 and 303 patients who underwent BSSRO were included in the analyses of hypoesthesia and dysesthesia, respectively. Hypoesthesia was evaluated using the tactile test 1 week after surgery. Dysesthesia was evaluated by interview 4 weeks after surgery. Whole-genome genotyping was conducted using Illumina BeadChips including approximately 300,000 polymorphism markers.
Hypoesthesia and dysesthesia occurred in 51 (16.8%) and 149 (49.2%) subjects, respectively. Significant associations were not observed between the clinical data (i.e., age, sex, body weight, body height, loss of blood volume, migration length of bone fragments, nerve exposure, duration of anesthesia, and duration of surgery) and the frequencies of hypoesthesia and dysesthesia. Significant associations were found between hypoesthesia and the rs502281 polymorphism (recessive model: combined χ2 = 24.72, nominal P = 6.633 × 10-7), between hypoesthesia and the rs2063640 polymorphism (recessive model: combined χ2 = 23.07, nominal P = 1.563 × 10-6), and between dysesthesia and the nonsynonymous rs2677879 polymorphism (trend model: combined χ2 = 16.56, nominal P = 4.722 × 10-5; dominant model: combined χ2 = 16.31, nominal P = 5.369 × 10-5). The rs502281 and rs2063640 polymorphisms were located in the flanking region of the ARID1B and ZPLD1 genes on chromosomes 6 and 3, whose official names are “AT rich interactive domain 1B (SWI1-like)” and “zona pellucida-like domain containing 1”, respectively. The rs2677879 polymorphism is located in the METTL4 gene on chromosome 18, whose official name is “methyltransferase like 4”.
The GWAS of sensory disturbances after BSSRO revealed associations between genetic polymorphisms located in the flanking region of the ARID1B and ZPLD1 genes and hypoesthesia and between a nonsynonymous genetic polymorphism in the METTL4 gene and dysesthesia.
Bilateral sagittal split ramus osteotomy; Hypoesthesia; Dysesthesia; Neuropathic pain; Genome-wide association study
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has shown promise in the alleviation of acute and chronic pain by altering the activity of cortical areas involved in pain sensation. However, current single-coil rTMS technology only allows for effects in surface cortical structures. The ability to affect activity in certain deep brain structures may however, allow for a better efficacy, safety, and tolerability. This study used PET imaging to determine whether a novel multi-coil rTMS would allow for preferential targeting of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), an area always activated with pain, and to provide preliminary evidence as to whether this targeted approach would allow for efficacious, safe, and tolerable analgesia both in a volunteer/acute pain model as well as in fibromyalgia chronic pain patients.
Part 1: Different coil configurations were tested in a placebo-controlled crossover design in volunteers (N = 16). Tonic pain was induced using a capsaicin/thermal pain model and functional brain imaging was performed by means of H215O positron emission tomography – computed tomography (PET/CT) scans. Differences in NRS pain ratings between TMS and sham treatment (NRSTMS-NRSplacebo) which were recorded each minute during the 10 minute PET scans. Part 2: 16 fibromyalgia patients were subjected to 20 multi-coil rTMS treatments over 4 weeks and effects on standard pain scales (Brief Pain Inventory, item 5, i.e. average pain NRS over the last 24 hours) were recorded.
A single 30 minute session using one of 3 tested rTMS coil configurations operated at 1 Hz consistently produced robust reduction (mean 70% on NRS scale) in evoked pain in volunteers. In fibromyalgia patients, the 20 rTMS sessions also produced a significant pain inhibition (43% reduction in NRS pain over last 24 hours), but only when operated at 10 Hz. This degree of pain control was maintained for at least 4 weeks after the final session.
Multi-coil rTMS may be a safe and effective treatment option for acute as well as for chronic pain, such as that accompanying fibromyalgia. Further studies are necessary to optimize configurations and settings as well as to elucidate the mechanisms that lead to the long-lasting pain control produced by these treatments.
Pain; Transcranial magnetic simulation; Acute pain; Chronic pain; Fibromyalgia; Multi coil; Functional imaging; Psychophysics
Cannabinoid receptors and T-type calcium channels are potential targets for treating pain. Here we report on the design, synthesis and analgesic properties of a new mixed cannabinoid/T-type channel ligand, NMP-181.
NMP-181 action on CB1 and CB2 receptors was characterized in radioligand binding and in vitro GTPγ[35S] functional assays, and block of transiently expressed human Cav3.2 T-type channels by NMP-181 was analyzed by patch clamp. The analgesic effects and in vivo mechanism of action of NMP-181 delivered spinally or systemically were analyzed in formalin and CFA mouse models of pain. NMP-181 inhibited peak CaV3.2 currents with IC50 values in the low micromolar range and acted as a CB2 agonist. Inactivated state dependence further augmented the inhibitory action of NMP-181. NMP-181 produced a dose-dependent antinociceptive effect when administered either spinally or systemically in both phases of the formalin test. Both i.t. and i.p. treatment of mice with NMP-181 reversed the mechanical hyperalgesia induced by CFA injection. NMP-181 showed no antinocieptive effect in CaV3.2 null mice. The antinociceptive effect of intrathecally delivered NMP-181 in the formalin test was reversed by i.t. treatment of mice with AM-630 (CB2 antagonist). In contrast, the NMP-181-induced antinociception was not affected by treatment of mice with AM-281 (CB1 antagonist).
Our work shows that both T-type channels as well as CB2 receptors play a role in the antinociceptive action of NMP-181, and also provides a novel avenue for suppressing chronic pain through novel mixed T-type/cannabinoid receptor ligands.
T-type Channels; Cannabinoid Receptors; Pain; Patch-Clamp; Mice
Amitriptyline (AMI) is tricyclic antidepressant that has been widely used to manage various chronic pains such as migraines. Its efficacy is attributed to its blockade of voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs). However, the effects of AMI on the tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-r) sodium channel Nav1.9 currents have been unclear to present.
Using a whole-cell patch clamp technique, this study showed that AMI efficiently inhibited Nav1.9 currents in a concentration-dependent manner and had an IC50 of 15.16 μM in acute isolated trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons of the rats. 10 μM AMI significantly shifted the steady-state inactivation of Nav1.9 channels in the hyperpolarizing direction without affecting voltage-dependent activation. Surprisingly, neither 10 nor 50 μM AMI caused a use-dependent blockade of Nav1.9 currents elicited by 60 pulses at 1 Hz.
These data suggest that AMI is a state-selective blocker of Nav1.9 channels in rat nociceptive trigeminal neurons, which likely contributes to the efficacy of AMI in treating various pains, including migraines.
Amitriptyline; Nav1.9; Patch clamp; Trigeminal ganglion; Pain
This review aims to create an overview of the currently available results of site-directed mutagenesis studies on transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) receptor. Systematization of the vast number of data on the functionally important amino acid mutations of TRPV1 may provide a clearer picture of this field, and may promote a better understanding of the relationship between the structure and function of TRPV1. The review summarizes information on 112 unique mutated sites along the TRPV1, exchanged to multiple different residues in many cases. These mutations influence the effect or binding of different agonists, antagonists, and channel blockers, alter the responsiveness to heat, acid, and voltage dependence, affect the channel pore characteristics, and influence the regulation of the receptor function by phosphorylation, glycosylation, calmodulin, PIP2, ATP, and lipid binding. The main goal of this paper is to publish the above mentioned data in a form that facilitates in silico molecular modelling of the receptor by promoting easier establishment of boundary conditions. The better understanding of the structure-function relationship of TRPV1 may promote discovery of new, promising, more effective and safe drugs for treatment of neurogenic inflammation and pain-related diseases and may offer new opportunities for therapeutic interventions.
TRPV1; Vanilloid; Amino acid; Mutants; Molecular modelling; Structure
We previously reported that nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain is initiated by newly produced lysophosphatidic acid (LPA).
In this study, we developed a quantitative mass spectrometry for detecting LPA species by using Phos-tag. Following nerve injury, the levels of 18:1, 16:0 and 18:0 LPA in the spinal dorsal horn significantly increased at 3 h and declined at 6 h. Among them, 18:1 LPA level was the most abundant. In the same preparation, there were significant elevations in the activities of cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) and calcium-independent phospholipase A2 (iPLA2), key enzymes for LPA synthesis, at 1 h, while there was no significant change in phospholipase A1 activity. Pharmacological studies revealed that NMDA and neurokinin 1 receptors, cPLA2, iPLA2 and microglial activation, as well as LPA1 and LPA3 receptors were all involved in the nerve injury-induced LPA production, and underlying cPLA2 and iPLA2 activations. In the cells expressing LPA1 or LPA3 receptor, the receptor-mediated calcium mobilization was most potent with 18:1 LPA, compared with 16:0 or 18:0 LPA. Moreover, the intrathecal injection of 18:1 LPA, but not 16:0 or 18:0 LPA, caused a spinal LPA production and neuropathic pain-like behavior.
These results suggest that 18:1 LPA is the predominant ligand responsible for LPA1 and LPA3 receptors-mediated amplification of LPA production through microglial activation.
Lysophosphatidic acid; Neuropathic pain; MALDI-TOFMS; Phos-tag; Cytosolic phospholipase A2; Neuron
Both spinal and trigeminal somatosensory systems use the TRPM8 channel as a principal transducer for detecting cold stimuli. It is currently unclear whether this cold transducer may play a role in trigeminal neuropathic pain manifesting cold allodynia and hyperalgesia. In the present study, trigeminal neuropathy was induced by chronic constrictive nerve injury of the infraorbital nerve (ION-CCI). Behavioral responses to cold stimuli in orofacial regions were assessed by the newly developed orofacial operant test in the ION-CCI rats. We tested menthol and capsazepine, two compounds that can activate and inhibit TRPM8 respectively, on orofacial operant responses to cold stimuli in ION-CCI rats. Testing animals performed operant tasks by voluntarily contacting their orofacial regions to a cold stimulation module in order to access sweetened milk as a reward, and contact time and number of the operant behaviors were automatically recorded. Total contact time was significantly reduced at the cooling temperatures of 17°C and 12°C in ION-CCI group in comparison with sham group, indicating the presence of cold allodynia and hyperalgesia in ION-CCI rats. When menthol was administered to ION-CCI rats, total contact time was further reduced and total contact number increased at the cooling temperatures. In contrast, after administration of capsazepine to ION-CCI rats, total contact time was significantly increased at the cooling temperatures. The behavioral outcomes support the idea that TRPM8 plays a role in cold allodynia and hyperalgesia following chronic trigeminal nerve injury.
Trigeminal neuropathic pain; TRPM8 channel; Cold allodynia and hyperalgesia; Orofacial operant behavior test; Menthol; Capsazepine
Extracellular acidosis is a prominent feature of multiple pathological conditions, correlating with pain sensation. Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs), a family of proton-gated cation channels, are distributed throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. Activation of ASICs, particularly ASIC3 and ASIC1a channels, by acidic pH and the resultant depolarization of nociceptive primary sensory neurons, participates in nociception. Agents that inhibit the activation of ASICs are thus expected to be analgesic. Here, we studied the effect of local anesthetic tetracaine on ASIC currents.
Tetracaine inhibited the peak ASIC3 current in a concentration-dependent manner with an IC50 of 9.96 ± 1.88 mM. The degree of inhibition by tetracaine was dependent on the extracellular pH but independent of the membrane potential. Furthermore, 3 mM tetracaine also inhibited 29.83% of the sustained ASIC3 current. In addition to ASIC3, tetracaine inhibited the ASIC1a and ASIC1β currents. The inhibition of the ASIC1a current was influenced by the frequency of channel activation. In contrast to ASIC3, ASIC1a, and ASIC1β currents, ASIC2a current was not inhibited by tetracaine. In cultured mouse dorsal root ganglion neurons, 1–3 mM tetracaine inhibited both the transient and sustained ASIC currents. At pH4.5, 3 mM tetracaine reduced the peak ASIC current to 60.06 ± 4.51%, and the sustained current to 48.24 ± 7.02% of the control values in dorsal root ganglion neurons. In contrast to ASICs, voltage-gated sodium channels were inhibited by acid, with 55.15% inhibition at pH6.0 and complete inhibition at pH5.0.
These findings disclose a potential new mechanism underlying the analgesic effects of local anesthetics, particularly in acidic conditions where their primary target (i.e. voltage-gated Na+ channel) has been suppressed by protons.
ASIC; Local anesthetics; Tetracaine; Frequency-dependent inhibition
Although a number of clinical and preclinical studies have demonstrated analgesic effects of cannabinoid treatments, there are also instances when cannabinoids have had no effect or even exacerbated pain. The observed pro-nociceptive effects appear to be due to cannabinoid-induced disinhibition of afferent synaptic input to nociceptive circuits. To better understand how cannabinoid-mediated plasticity can have both pro- and anti-nociceptive effects, we examined the possibility that cannabinoids differentially modulate nociceptive vs. non-nociceptive synapses onto a shared postsynaptic target. These experiments were carried out in the central nervous system (CNS) of the medicinal leech, in which it is possible to intracellularly record from presynaptic nociceptive (N-cell) or pressure-sensitive (P-cell) neurons and their shared postsynaptic targets.
The endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2AG) elicited significant long-lasting depression in nociceptive (N-cell) synapses. However, non-nociceptive (P-cell) synapses were potentiated following 2AG treatment. 2AG-induced potentiation of non-nociceptive synapses was blocked by the TRPV antagonist SB366791, suggesting involvement of the same TRPV-like receptor that has already been shown to mediate endocannabinoid-dependent depression in nociceptive inputs. Treatment with the GABA receptor antagonist bicuculline also blocked 2AG-induced potentiation, consistent with the idea that increased synaptic signaling was the result of endocannabinoid-mediated disinhibition. Interestingly, while bicuculline by itself increased non-nociceptive synaptic transmission, nociceptive synapses were depressed by this GABA receptor antagonist indicating that nociceptive synapses were actually excited by GABAergic input. Consistent with these observations, GABA application depolarized the nociceptive afferent and hyperpolarized the non-nociceptive afferent.
These findings show that endocannabinoids can differentially modulate nociceptive vs. non-nociceptive synapses and that GABAergic regulation of these synapses plays an important role in determining whether endocannabinoids have a potentiating or depressing effect.
Endocannabinoid; Nociception; GABA; Leech; Invertebrate; Synapse
The quantification of pain intensity in vivo is essential for identifying the mechanisms of various types of pain or for evaluating the effects of different analgesics. A variety of behavioral tests for pain measurement have been devised, but many are limited because animals are physically restricted, which affects pain sensation. In this study, pain assessment was attempted with minimal physical restriction, and voluntary movements of unrestrained animals were used to evaluate the intensities of various types of pain.
The number of times animals reared or total distances traveled was measured using a motion-tracking device and found to be markedly reduced in carrageenan-induced inflammatory, acetic acid-induced visceral, and streptozotocin-induced neuropathic pain tests. These two voluntary movement parameters were found to be highly correlated with paw withdrawal latency from irradiating heat. In addition, these parameters were markedly reversed by morphine and by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in inflammatory pain models. These parameters were also useful to detect hypoalgesia in TRPV1-/- mice.
These results suggest that parameters of voluntary movement, such as, number of rearing and total distance moved, are effective indicators of pain intensity for many types of pain and that they can be used to evaluate degree of pain perception.
Voluntary movement; Rearing; Total distance moved; Inflammatory pain; Neuropathic pain; Visceral pain; TRPV1
Odontoblasts are specialized cells that form dentin and they are believed to be sensors for tooth pain. Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), a pro-inflammatory cytokine expressed early in odontoblasts, plays an important role in the immune response during tooth inflammation and infection. TGF-β1 is also known to participate in pain signaling by regulating cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) in nociceptive neurons of the trigeminal and dorsal root ganglia. However, the precise role of TGF-β1 in tooth pain signaling is not well characterized. The aim of our present study was to determine whether or not in odontoblasts Cdk5 is functionally active, if it is regulated by TGF-β1, and if it affects the downstream pain receptor, transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV1).
We first determined that Cdk5 and p35 are indeed expressed in an odontoblast-enriched primary preparation from murine teeth. For the subsequent analysis, we used an odontoblast-like cell line (MDPC-23) and found that Cdk5 is functionally active in these cells and its kinase activity is upregulated during cell differentiation. We found that TGF-β1 treatment potentiated Cdk5 kinase activity in undifferentiated MDPC-23 cells. SB431542, a specific inhibitor of TGF-β1 receptor 1 (Tgfbr1), when co-administered with TGF-β1, blocked the induction of Cdk5 activity. TGF-β1 treatment also activated the ERK1/2 signaling pathway, causing an increase in early growth response-1 (Egr-1), a transcription factor that induces p35 expression. In MDPC-23 cells transfected with TRPV1, Cdk5-mediated phosphorylation of TRPV1 at threonine-407 was significantly increased after TGF-β1 treatment. In contrast, SB431542 co-treatment blocked TRPV1 phosphorylation. Moreover, TGF-β1 treatment enhanced both proton- and capsaicin-induced Ca2+ influx in TRPV1-expressing MDPC-23 cells, while co-treatment with either SB431542 or roscovitine blocked this effect.
Cdk5 and p35 are expressed in a murine odontoblast-enriched primary preparation of cells from teeth. Cdk5 is also functionally active in odontoblast-like MDPC-23 cells. TGF-β1 sensitizes TRPV1 through Cdk5 signaling in MDPC-23 cells, suggesting the direct involvement of odontoblasts and Cdk5 in dental nociceptive pain transduction.
TGF-β1; Cdk5; p35; TRPV1; MDPC-23 cells
An inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate binding protein, comprising 2 isoforms termed PRIP-1 and PRIP-2, was identified as a novel modulator for GABAA receptor trafficking. It has been reported that naive PRIP-1 knockout mice have hyperalgesic responses.
To determine the involvement of PRIP in pain sensation, a hind paw withdrawal test was performed before and after partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSNL) in PRIP-1 and PRIP-2 double knockout (DKO) mice. We found that naive DKO mice exhibited normal pain sensitivity. However, DKO mice that underwent PSNL surgery showed increased ipsilateral paw withdrawal threshold. To further investigate the inverse phenotype in PRIP-1 KO and DKO mice, we produced mice with specific siRNA-mediated knockdown of PRIPs in the spinal cord. Consistent with the phenotypes of KO mice, PRIP-1 knockdown mice showed allodynia, while PRIP double knockdown (DKD) mice with PSNL showed decreased pain-related behavior. This indicates that reduced expression of both PRIPs in the spinal cord induces resistance towards a painful sensation. GABAA receptor subunit expression pattern was similar between PRIP-1 KO and DKO spinal cord, while expression of K+-Cl--cotransporter-2 (KCC2), which controls the balance of neuronal excitation and inhibition, was significantly upregulated in DKO mice. Furthermore, in the DKD PSNL model, an inhibitor-induced KCC2 inhibition exhibited an altered phenotype from painless to painful sensations.
Suppressed expression of PRIPs induces an elevated expression of KCC2 in the spinal cord, resulting in inhibition of nociception and amelioration of neuropathic pain in DKO mice.
KCC2; GABAA Receptor; Neuropathic pain; Partial sciatic nerve ligation; PRIP
Noxious stimulation and nerve injury induce an increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) via various receptors or ionic channels. While an increase in [Ca2+]i excites neurons, [Ca2+]i overload elicits cytotoxicity, resulting in cell death. Intracellular Ca2+ is essential for many signal transduction mechanisms, and its level is precisely regulated by the Ca2+ extrusion system in the plasma membrane, which includes the Na+-Ca2+ exchanger (NCX). It has been demonstrated that Ca2+-ATPase is the primary mechanism for removing [Ca2+]i following excitatory activity in trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons; however, the role of NCXs in this process has yet to be clarified. The goal of this study was to examine the expression/localization of NCXs in TG neurons and to evaluate their functional properties.
NCX isoforms (NCX1, NCX2, and NCX3) were expressed in primary cultured rat TG neurons. All the NCX isoforms were also expressed in A-, peptidergic C-, and non-peptidergic C-neurons, and located not only in the somata, dendrites, axons and perinuclear region, but also in axons innervating the dental pulp. Reverse NCX activity was clearly observed in TG neurons. The inactivation kinetics of voltage-dependent Na+ channels were prolonged by NCX inhibitors when [Ca2+]i in TG neurons was elevated beyond physiological levels.
Our results suggest that NCXs in TG neurons play an important role in regulating Ca2+-homeostasis and somatosensory information processing by functionally coupling with voltage-dependent Na+ channels.
Calcium homeostasis; Sodium-calcium exchangers; Orofacial pain; Trigeminal neuron; Voltage-dependent Na+ channels
Pain tolerance is subject to considerable inter-individual variation, which may be influenced by a number of genetic and non-genetic factors. The mu, delta and kappa opioid receptors play a role in pain perception and are thought to mediate different pain modalities. The aim of this study was to explore associations between pain thresholds and gender and genetic variants in the three opioid receptor genes (OPRM, OPRD and OPRK). Experimental multi-modal pain data from previously published studies carried out in healthy Caucasian volunteers were used in order to limit the number of confounders to the study outcome. Data on thermal skin pain (n=36), muscle pressure pain (n=31) and mechanical visceral pain (n=50)) tolerance thresholds were included.
Nineteen genetic polymorphisms were included in linear regression modeling. Males were found to tolerate higher thermal and muscle pressure pain than females (p=0.003 and 0.02). Thirty four percent of variability in thermal skin pain was accounted for by a model consisting of OPRK rs6473799 and gender. This finding was just outside significance when correction for multiple testing was applied. Variability in muscle pressure pain tolerance was associated with OPRK rs7016778 and rs7824175. These SNPs accounted for 43% of variability in muscle pressure pain sensitivity and these findings remained significant after adjustment for multiple testing. No association was found with mechanical visceral pain.
This is a preliminary and hypothesis generating study due to the relatively small study size. However, significant association between the opioid receptor genes and experimental pain sensitivity supports the influence of genetic variability in pain perception. These findings may be used to generate hypotheses for testing in larger clinical trials of patients with painful conditions.
OPRM; OPRK; OPRD; Gender; Pain tolerance thresholds; Opioid receptor genes
Preoperative pain, type of operation and anesthesia, severity of acute postoperative pain, and psychosocial factors have been identified as risk factors for chronic postsurgical pain (CPP). Recently, it has been suggested that genetic factors also contribute to CPP. In this study, we aimed to determine whether the catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) and opioid receptor μ-1 (OPRM1) common functional polymorphisms rs4680 and rs1799971 were associated with the incidence, intensity, or duration of CPP in patients after lower abdominal surgery.
One hundred and two patients with American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status I/II underwent either abdominal radical prostatectomy (n = 45) or hysterectomy (n = 57). The incidences of CPP in the pelvic and scar areas were evaluated in all patients three months after surgery.
Thirty-five (34.3%) patients experienced CPP after lower abdominal surgery. Within this group, six (17.1%) patients demonstrated symptoms of neuropathic pain. For COMT rs4680, 22 (21.6%) patients had Met158Met, 55 (53.9%) patients had Val158Met, and 25 (24.5%) patients had Val158Val. No association was found between CPP phenotypes (incidence, intensity, and duration) and different rs4680 genotypes. For OPRM1 rs1799971, only CPP patients carrying at least one copy of the G allele had higher pain intensity than A118A carriers (p=0.02). No associations with other phenotypes were found. No combined effect of COMT/OPRM1 polymorphisms on CPP phenotypes was observed.
OPRM1 genotype influences CPP following lower abdominal surgery. COMT didn’t affect CPP, suggesting its potential modality-specific effects on human pain.
Chronic postsurgical pain; Lower abdominal surgery; COMT; OPRM1; Gene; Polymorphism
Electroacupuncture (EA) is effective in relieving pain in patients with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). However, the mechanism underlying the therapeutic effect of EA in PHN is still unclear. Systemic injection of resiniferatoxin (RTX), an ultrapotent analog of TRPV1 agonist, in adult rats can reproduce the clinical symptoms of PHN by ablating TRPV1-expressing sensory neurons. In this study, we determined the beneficial effect of EA and the potential mechanisms in this rat model of PHN.
PHN was induced in rats by a single injection of RTX. Thermal hyperalgesia was tested with a radiant heat stimulus, and mechanical allodynia was quantified with von Frey filaments. TRPV1 receptors were shown by using immunofluorescence labeling. The ultrastructural changes of the sciatic nerve were assessed by electron microscopic examination. The sprouting of myelinated primary afferent terminals into the spinal dorsal horn was mapped by using the transganglionic tracer cholera toxin B-subunit (CTB).
RTX injection diminished thermal sensitivity and gradually induced tactile allodynia within 3 weeks. EA applied to GB30 and GB34 at 2 and 15 Hz, but not 100 Hz, significantly increased the thermal sensitivity 4 weeks after treatment and decreased the tactile allodynia 2 weeks after treatment in RTX-treated rats. EA treatment at 2 and 15 Hz recovered the loss of TRPV1-positive dorsal root ganglion neurons and their central terminals of afferent fibers in the spinal superficial dorsal horn of RTX-treated rats. Moreover, EA significantly reduced the loss of unmyelinated fibers and the damage of the myelinated nerve fibers of RTX-treated rats. Furthermore, EA at 2 and 15 Hz inhibited the sprouting of myelinated primary afferent terminals into the spinal lamina II of RTX-treated rats.
EA treatment improves thermal perception by recovering TRPV1-positive sensory neurons and nerve terminals damaged by RTX. EA Also reduces RTX-induced tactile allodynia by attenuating the damage of myelinated afferent nerves and their abnormal sprouting into the spinal lamina II. Our study provides new information about the mechanisms of the therapeutic actions of EA in the treatment of PHN.
Neuropathic pain; Postherpetic neuralgia; Capsaicin; Acupuncture; Analgesia; Allodynia; TRPV1; Axonal sprouting
Proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β (IL-1β) released from spinal microglia plays an important role in the maintenance of acute and chronic pain states. However, the cellular basis of this action remains poorly understood. Using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, we examined the action of IL-1β on AMPA- and NMDA-receptor-mediated currents recorded from substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurons of adult rat spinal cord slices which are key sites for regulating nociceptive transmission from the periphery.
AMPA- and NMDA-induced currents were increased in peak amplitude by IL-1β in a manner different from each other in SG neurons. These facilitatory actions of IL-1β were abolished by IL-1 receptor (IL-1R) antagonist (IL-1ra), which by itself had no detectable effects on AMPA- and NMDA-induced currents. The AMPA- but not NMDA-induced current facilitated by IL-1β was recovered to control level 30 min after IL-1β washout and largely depressed in Na+-channel blocker tetrodotoxin-containing or nominally Ca2+-free Krebs solution. Minocycline, a microglia inhibitor, blocked the facilitatory effect of IL-1β on AMPA- but not NMDA-induced currents, where minocycline itself depressed NMDA- but had not any effects on AMPA-induced currents.
IL-1β enhances AMPA and NMDA responses in SG neurons through IL-1R activation; the former but not latter action is reversible and due to an increase in neuronal activity in a manner dependent on extracellular Ca2+ and minocycline. It is suggested that AMPA and NMDA receptors are positively modulated by IL-1β in a manner different from each other; the former but not latter is mediated by a neurotransmitter released as a result of an increase in neuronal activity. Since IL-1β contributes to nociceptive behavior induced by peripheral nerve or tissue injury, the present findings also reveal an important cellular link between neuronal and glial cells in the spinal dorsal horn.
IL-1β; IL-1ra; Glutamate receptor; Whole-cell patch-clamp; Spinal dorsal horn; Pain