Neuropathic pain is a difficult to treat disorder arising from central or peripheral nervous system lesions. The etiology of neuropathic pain consists of several overlapping pathways converging into an exaggerated pain state with symptoms such as allodynia and hyperalgesia. One of these pathways involves activation of spinal cord microglia and astrocytes, which drive and maintain the inflammatory response following the lesion. These cells are a potential target for drugs for neuropathic pain relief. In this current study, we investigated the dose-effect relationship of the tissue protective peptide ARA 290, derived from the tertiary structure of erythropoietin, on allodynia and concurrent spinal cord microglia and astrocytes.
Following a spared nerve injury in rats, vehicle or ARA290 (administered in either one of 4 doses: 3, 10, 30 and 60 μg/kg) was administered on days 1, 3, 6, 8 and 10. ARA290 exerted a dose–response effect by significantly reducing mechanical allodynia up to 20 weeks when compared to vehicle. The reduction of cold allodynia was significant up to 20 weeks for the doses 3, 10, 30 and 60 μg/kg when compared to vehicle. The effect 10 and 30 μg/kg ARA290 and vehicle on the microglia response (iba-1-immunoreactivity, iba-1-IR) and astrocyte reaction (GFAP-immunoreactivity, GFAP-IR) was investigated in animals surviving 2 (group 1) or 20 (group 2) weeks following lesion or sham surgery. In group 1, significant microglia reactivity was observed in the L5 segment of the spinal cord of animals treated with vehicle when compared to sham operated, while animals treated with 10 or 30 μg/kg did not show a increase. In group 2, a more widespread and increased microglia reactivity was observed for animals treated with 0 and 10 μg/kg when compared to sham operated animals, indicated by involvement of more spinal cord segments and higher iba-1-IR. Animals treated with 30 μg/kg did not show increased microglia reactivity. No difference in astrocyte reaction was observed.
The erythropoietin-analogue ARA290 dose-dependently reduced allodynia coupled to suppression of the spinal microglia response, suggestive of a mechanistic link between ARA290-induced suppression of central inflammation and relief of neuropathic pain symptoms.
ARA 290; Spared nerve injury; Allodynia; Dorsal horn; Microglia; Iba-1; Astrocytes; GFAP
Paclitaxel, a widely-used antineoplastic drug, produces a painful peripheral neuropathy that in rodents is associated with peripheral-nerve mitochondrial alterations. The sigma-1 receptor (σ1R) is a ligand-regulated molecular chaperone involved in mitochondrial calcium homeostasis and pain hypersensitivity. This receptor plays a key role in paclitaxel-induced neuropathic pain, but it is not known whether it also modulates mitochondrial abnormalities.
In this study, we used a mouse model of paclitaxel-induced neuropathic pain to test the involvement of the σ1R in the mitochondrial abnormalities associated with paclitaxel, by using genetic (σ1R knockout mice) and pharmacological (σ1R antagonist) approaches.
Paclitaxel administration to wild-type (WT) mice produced cold- and mechanical-allodynia, and an increase in the frequency of swollen and vacuolated mitochondria in myelinated A-fibers, but not in C-fibers, of the saphenous nerve. Behavioral and mitochondrial alterations were marked at 10 days after paclitaxel-administration and had resolved at day 28. In contrast, paclitaxel treatment did not induce allodynia or mitochondrial abnormalities in σ1R knockout mice. Moreover, the prophylactic treatment of WT mice with BD-1063 also prevented the neuropathic pain and mitochondrial abnormalities induced by paclitaxel.
These results suggest that activation of the σ1R is necessary for development of the sensory nerve mitochondrial damage and neuropathic pain produced by paclitaxel. Therefore, σ1R antagonists might have therapeutic value for the prevention of paclitaxel-induced neuropathy.
Paclitaxel; Sigma-1 receptors; Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy; BD-1063; Mitochondria; Allodynia; Neuropathic pain; Sigma-1 receptor knockout mice
Leukocytes containing opioid peptides locally control inflammatory pain. In the early phase of complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA)-induced hind paw inflammation, formyl peptides (derived e.g. from Mycobacterium butyricum) trigger the release of opioid peptides from neutrophils contributing to tonic basal antinociception. In the later phase we hypothesized that toll-like-receptor-(TLR)-4 activation of monocytes/macrophages triggers opioid peptide release and thereby stimulates peripheral opioid-dependent antinociception.
In Wistar rats with CFA hind paw inflammation in the later inflammatory phase (48–96 h) systemic leukocyte depletion by cyclophosphamide (CTX) or locally injected naloxone (NLX) further decreased mechanical and thermal nociceptive thresholds. In vitro β-endorphin (β-END) content increased during human monocyte differentiation as well as in anti-inflammatory CD14+CD16- or non-classical M2 macrophages. Monocytes expressing TLR4 dose-dependently released β-END after stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) dependent on intracellular calcium. Despite TLR4 expression proinflammatory M1 and anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages only secreted opioid peptides in response to ionomycin, a calcium ionophore. Intraplantar injection of LPS as a TLR4 agonist into the inflamed paw elicited an immediate opioid- and dose-dependent antinociception, which was blocked by TAK-242, a small-molecule inhibitor of TLR4, or by peripheral applied NLX. In the later phase LPS lowered mechanical and thermal nociceptive thresholds. Furthermore, local peripheral TLR4 blockade worsened thermal and mechanical nociceptive pain thresholds in CFA inflammation.
Endogenous opioids from monocytes/macrophages mediate endogenous antinociception in the late phase of inflammation. Peripheral TLR4 stimulation acts as a transient counter-regulatory mechanism for inflammatory pain in vivo, and increases the release of opioid peptides from monocytes in vitro. TLR4 antagonists as new treatments for sepsis and neuropathic pain might unexpectedly transiently enhance pain by impairing peripheral opioid analgesia.
Toll like receptors; Analgesia; Inflammatory pain; Endogenous opioids
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S), an endogenous gaseotransmitter/modulator, is becoming appreciated that it may be involved in a wide variety of processes including inflammation and nociception. However, the role for H2S in nociceptive processing in trigeminal ganglion (TG) neuron remains unknown. The aim of this study was designed to investigate whether endogenous H2S synthesizing enzyme cystathionine-β-synthetase (CBS) plays a role in inflammatory pain in temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
TMJ inflammatory pain was induced by injection of complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) into TMJ of adult male rats. Von Frey filaments were used to examine pain behavioral responses in rats following injection of CFA or normal saline (NS). Whole cell patch clamp recordings were employed on acutely isolated TG neurons from rats 2 days after CFA injection. Western blot analysis was carried out to measure protein expression in TGs.
Injection of CFA into TMJ produced a time dependent hyperalgesia as evidenced by reduced escape threshold in rats responding to VFF stimulation. The reduced escape threshold was partially reversed by injection of O-(Carboxymethyl) hydroxylamine hemihydrochloride (AOAA), an inhibitor for CBS, in a dose-dependent manner. CFA injection led to a marked upregulation of CBS expression when compared with age-matched controls. CFA injection enhanced neuronal excitability as evidenced by depolarization of resting membrane potentials, reduction in rheobase, and an increase in number of action potentials evoked by 2 and 3 times rheobase current stimulation and by a ramp current stimulation of TG neurons innervating the TMJ area. CFA injection also led to a reduction of IK but not IA current density of TG neurons. Application of AOAA in TMJ area reduced the production of H2S in TGs and reversed the enhanced neural hyperexcitability and increased the IK currents of TG neurons.
These data together with our previous report indicate that endogenous H2S generating enzyme CBS plays an important role in TMJ inflammation, which is likely mediated by inhibition of IK currents, thus identifying a specific molecular mechanism underlying pain and sensitization in TMJ inflammation.
Temporomandibular joint inflammation; Pain; Hydrogen sulfide; Cystathionine-β-synthetase; Trigeminal ganglion; Potassium currents
Voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels are critical in controlling neuronal excitability and are involved in the induction of neuropathic pain. Therefore, Kv channels might be potential targets for prevention and/or treatment of this disorder. We reported here that a majority of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons were positive for Kv channel alpha subunit Kv1.2. Most of them were large and medium, although there was a variety of sizes. Peripheral nerve injury caused by lumbar (L)5 spinal nerve ligation (SNL) produced a time-dependent reduction in the number of Kv1.2-positive neurons in the ipsilateral L5 DRG, but not in the contralateral L5 DRG. Such reduction was also observed in the ipsilateral L5 DRG on day 7 after sciatic nerve axotomy. Rescuing nerve injury-induced reduction of Kv1.2 in the injured L5 DRG attenuated the development and maintenance of SNL-induced pain hypersensitivity without affecting acute pain and locomotor function. This effect might be attributed to the prevention of SNL-induced upregulation of endogenous Kv1.2 antisense RNA, in addition to the increase in Kv1.2 protein expression, in the injured DRG. Our findings suggest that Kv1.2 may be a novel potential target for preventing and/or treating neuropathic pain.
Potassium channels; Kv1.2; Distribution; Dorsal root ganglion; Neuropathic pain
In the present study, we examined spinal glial cell activation as a central nervous system mechanism of widespread mechanical hyperalgesia in rats that experienced chronic post-cast pain (CPCP) 2 weeks after cast immobilization. Activated spinal microglia and astrocytes were investigated immunohistologically in lumbar and coccygeal spinal cord segments 1 day, 5 weeks, and 13 weeks following cast removal.
In the lumbar cord, astrocytes were activated after microglia. Astrocytes also were activated after microglia in the coccygeal cord, but with a delay that was longer than that observed in the lumbar cord. This activation pattern paralleled the observation that mechanical hyperalgesia occurred in the hindleg or the hindpaw before the tail. The activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) immune response in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) on the last day of cast immobilization suggested that nerve damage might not occur in CPCP rats. The neural activation assessed by the phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (pERK) immune response in DRG arose 1 day after cast removal. In addition, L-α-aminoadipate (L-α-AA), an inhibitor of astrocyte activation administered intrathecally 5 weeks after cast removal, inhibited mechanical hyperalgesia in several body parts including the lower leg skin and muscles bilaterally, hindpaws, and tail.
These findings suggest that activation of lumbar cord astrocytes is an important factor in widespread mechanical hyperalgesia in CPCP.
Cast immobilization; Chronic post-cast pain; Widespread hyperalgesia; Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) Type I; Microglia; Astrocytes
Various pathological conditions such as inflammation or injury can evoke pain hypersensitivity. That represents the response to innocuous stimuli or exaggerated response to noxious stimuli. The molecular mechanism based on the pain hypersensitivity is associated with changes in many of ion channels in dorsal-root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Anoctamin 1 (ANO1/TMEM16A), a Ca2+ activated chloride channel is highly visible in small DRG neurons and responds to heat. Mice with an abolished function of ANO1 in DRG neurons demonstrated attenuated pain-like behaviors when exposed to noxious heat, suggesting a role in acute thermal nociception. In this study, we further examined the function of ANO1 in mediating inflammation- or injury-induced hyperalgesia or allodynia.
) mice that have a functional ablation of Ano1 mainly in DRG neurons, we were able to determine its role in mediating thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia induced by inflammation or nerve injury. The thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia induced by carrageenan injection and spared-nerve injury were significantly reduced in Adv/Ano1
mice. In addition, flinching or licking behavior after bradykinin or formalin injection was also significantly reduced in Adv/Ano1
mice. Since pathological conditions augment nociceptive behaviors, we expected ANO1′s contribution to the excitability of DRG neurons. Indeed, the application of inflammatory mediators reduced the threshold for action potential (rheobase) or time for induction of the first action potential in DRG neurons isolated from control (Ano1
) mice. These parameters for neuronal excitability induced by inflammatory mediators were not changed in Adv/Ano1
mice, suggesting an active contribution of ANO1 in augmenting the neuronal excitability.
In addition to ANO1's role in mediating acute thermal pain as a heat sensor, ANO1 is also capable of augmenting the excitability of DRG neurons under inflammatory or neuropathic conditions and thereby aggravates inflammation- or tissue injury-induced pathological pain.
ANO1; Neuropathic pain; Inflammatory pain; DRG neuron; Hyperalgesia; Rheobase
A recent study by Mishra and Hoon identified B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) as an important peptide for itch transmission and proposed that BNP activates spinal natriuretic peptide receptor-A (NPRA) expressing neurons, which release gastrin releasing peptide (GRP) to activate GRP receptor (GRPR) expressing neurons to relay itch information from the periphery to the brain (Science 340:968–971, 2013). A central premise for the validity of this novel pathway is the absence of GRP in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. To this end, they showed that Grp mRNA in DRG neurons is either absent or barely detectable and claimed that BNP but not GRP is a major neurotransmitter for itch in pruriceptors. They showed that NPRA immunostaining is perfectly co-localized with Grp-eGFP in the spinal cord, and a few acute pain behaviors in Nppb
mice were tested. They claimed that BNP is an itch-selective peptide that acts as the first station of a dedicated neuronal pathway comprising a GRP-GRPR cascade for itch. However, our studies, along with the others, do not support their claims.
We were unable to reproduce the immunostaining of BNP and NPRA as shown by Mishra and Hoon. By contrast, we were able to detect Grp mRNA in DRGs using in situ hybridization and real time RT-PCR. We show that the expression pattern of Grp mRNA is comparable to that of GRP protein in DRGs. Pharmacological and genetic blockade of GRP-GRPR signaling does not significantly affect intrathecal BNP-induced scratching behavior. We show that BNP inhibits inflammatory pain and morphine analgesia.
Accumulating evidence demonstrates that GRP is a key neurotransmitter in pruriceptors for mediating histamine-independent itch. BNP-NPRA signaling is involved in both itch and pain and does not function upstream of the GRP-GRPR dedicated neuronal pathway. The site of BNP action in itch and pain and its relationship with GRP remain to be clarified.
BNP; NPRA; GRP; GRPR; Itch; Pain; Spinal cord; DRG
Lamina I projection neurons respond to painful stimuli, and some are also activated by touch or hair movement. Neuropathic pain resulting from peripheral nerve damage is often associated with tactile allodynia (touch-evoked pain), and this may result from increased responsiveness of lamina I projection neurons to non-noxious mechanical stimuli. It is thought that polysynaptic pathways involving excitatory interneurons can transmit tactile inputs to lamina I projection neurons, but that these are normally suppressed by inhibitory interneurons. Vertical cells in lamina II provide a potential route through which tactile stimuli can activate lamina I projection neurons, since their dendrites extend into the region where tactile afferents terminate, while their axons can innervate the projection cells. The aim of this study was to determine whether vertical cell dendrites were contacted by the central terminals of low-threshold mechanoreceptive primary afferents.
We initially demonstrated contacts between dendritic spines of vertical cells that had been recorded in spinal cord slices and axonal boutons containing the vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (VGLUT1), which is expressed by myelinated low-threshold mechanoreceptive afferents. To confirm that the VGLUT1 boutons included primary afferents, we then examined vertical cells recorded in rats that had received injections of cholera toxin B subunit (CTb) into the sciatic nerve. We found that over half of the VGLUT1 boutons contacting the vertical cells were CTb-immunoreactive, indicating that they were of primary afferent origin.
These results show that vertical cell dendritic spines are frequently contacted by the central terminals of myelinated low-threshold mechanoreceptive afferents. Since dendritic spines are associated with excitatory synapses, it is likely that most of these contacts were synaptic. Vertical cells in lamina II are therefore a potential route through which tactile afferents can activate lamina I projection neurons, and this pathway could play a role in tactile allodynia.
We previously developed a thrombus-induced ischemic pain (TIIP) animal model, which was characterized by chronic bilateral mechanical allodynia without thermal hyperalgesia (TH). On the other hand we had shown that intraplantar injection of acidic saline facilitated ATP-induced pain, which did result in the induction of TH in normal rats. Because acidic pH and increased ATP are closely associated with ischemic conditions, this study is designed to: (1) examine whether acidic saline injection into the hind paw causes the development of TH in TIIP, but not control, animals; and (2) determine which peripheral mechanisms are involved in the development of this TH.
Repeated intraplantar injection of pH 4.0 saline, but not pH 5.5 and 7.0 saline, for 3 days following TIIP surgery resulted in the development of TH. After pH 4.0 saline injections, protein levels of hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and carbonic anhydrase II (CA II) were elevated in the plantar muscle indicating that acidic stimulation intensified ischemic insults with decreased tissue acidity. At the same time point, there were no changes in the expression of TRPV1 in hind paw skin, whereas a significant increase in TRPV1 phosphorylation (pTRPV1) was shown in acidic saline (pH 4.0) injected TIIP (AS-TIIP) animals. Moreover, intraplantar injection of chelerythrine (a PKC inhibitor) and AMG9810 (a TRPV1 antagonist) effectively alleviated the established TH. In order to investigate which proton- or ATP-sensing receptors contributed to the development of TH, amiloride (an ASICs blocker), AMG9810, TNP-ATP (a P2Xs antagonist) or MRS2179 (a P2Y1 antagonist) were pre-injected before the pH 4.0 saline. Only MRS2179 significantly prevented the induction of TH, and the increased pTRPV1 ratio was also blocked in MRS2179 injected animals.
Collectively these data show that maintenance of an acidic environment in the ischemic hind paw of TIIP rats results in the phosphorylation of TRPV1 receptors via a PKC-dependent pathway, which leads to the development of TH mimicking what occurs in chronic ischemic patients with severe acidosis. More importantly, peripheral P2Y1 receptors play a pivotal role in this process, suggesting a novel peripheral mechanism underlying the development of TH in these patients.
Ischemic pain; Acid; ATP; Thermal hyperalgesia; P2Y1 receptor; TRPV1; Phosphorylation
The insular cortex (IC) is an important forebrain structure involved in pain perception and taste memory formation. Using a 64-channel multi-electrode array system, we recently identified and characterized two major forms of synaptic plasticity in the adult mouse IC: long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD). In this study, we investigate injury-related metaplastic changes in insular synaptic plasticity after distal tail amputation. We found that tail amputation in adult mice produced a selective loss of low frequency stimulation-induced LTD in the IC, without affecting (RS)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG)-evoked LTD. The impaired insular LTD could be pharmacologically rescued by priming the IC slices with a lower dose of DHPG application, a form of metaplasticity which involves activation of protein kinase C but not protein kinase A or calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II. These findings provide important insights into the synaptic mechanisms of cortical changes after peripheral amputation and suggest that restoration of insular LTD may represent a novel therapeutic strategy against the synaptic dysfunctions underlying the pathophysiology of phantom pain.
Pain in masticatory muscles is among the most prominent symptoms of temperomandibular disorders (TMDs) that have diverse and complex etiology. A common complaint of TMD is that unilateral pain of craniofacial muscle can cause a widespread of bilateral pain sensation, although the underlying mechanism remains unknown. To investigate whether unilateral inflammation of masseter muscle can cause a bilateral allodynia, we generated masseter muscle inflammation induced by unilateral injection of complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) in rats, and measured the bilateral head withdrawal threshold at different time points using a von Frey anesthesiometer. After behavioral assessment, both right and left trigeminal ganglia (TRG) were dissected and examined for histopathology and transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) mRNA expression using quantitative real-time PCR analysis. A significant increase in TRPV1 mRNA expression occurred in TRG ipsilateral to CFA injected masseter muscle, whereas no significant alteration in TRPV1 occurred in the contralateral TRG. Interestingly, central injection of TRPV1 antagonist 5-iodoresiniferatoxin into the hippocampus significantly attenuated the head withdrawal response of both CFA injected and non-CFA injected contralateral masseter muscle. Our findings show that unilateral inflammation of masseter muscle is capable of inducing bilateral allodynia in rats. Upregulation of TRPV1 at the TRG level is due to nociception caused by inflammation, whereas contralateral nocifensive behavior in masticatory muscle nociception is likely mediated by central TRPV1, pointing to the involvement of altered information processing in higher centers.
Hippocampus; Masseter muscle; TMD; TRG; TRPV1
Presynaptic voltage-gated calcium CaV2.2 channels play a privileged role in spinal level sensitization following peripheral nerve injury. Direct and indirect inhibitors of CaV2.2 channel activity in spinal dorsal horn are analgesic in chronic pain states. CaV2.2 channels represent a family of splice isoforms that are expressed in different combinations according to cell-type. A pair of mutually exclusive exons in the CaV2.2 encoding Cacna1b gene, e37a and e37b, differentially influence morphine analgesia. In mice that lack exon e37a, which is enriched in nociceptors, the analgesic efficacy of intrathecal morphine against noxious thermal stimuli is reduced. Here we ask if sequences unique to e37a influence: the development of abnormal thermal and mechanical sensitivity associated with peripheral nerve injury; and the actions of two other classes of analgesics that owe part or all of their efficacy to CaV2.2 channel inhibition. We find that: i) the analgesic efficacy of morphine, but not ziconotide or gabapentin, is reduced in mice lacking e37a, ii) the induction and maintenance of behaviors associated with sensitization that accompany peripheral nerve injury, do not require e37a-specific sequence, iii) intrathecal morphine, but not ziconotide or gabapentin analgesia to thermal stimuli is significantly lower in wild-type mice after peripheral nerve injury, iv) the analgesic efficacy of ziconotide and gabapentin to mechanical stimuli is reduced following nerve injury, and iv) intrathecal morphine analgesia to thermal stimuli in mice lacking e37a is not further reduced by peripheral nerve injury. Our findings show that the analgesic action of morphine, but not ziconotide or gabapentin, to thermal stimuli is linked to which Cacna1b exon, e37a or e37b, is selected during alternative pre-mRNA splicing.
Voltage-gated calcium channels; Neuropathic pain; Alternative splicing; Morphine; Ziconotide; Gabapentin; Nociception; Analgesia; Spared nerve injury
Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) is a unique member of the serine/threonine kinase family. This kinase plays an important role in neuronal development, and deregulation of its activity leads to neurodegenerative disorders. Cdk5 also serves an important function in the regulation of nociceptive signaling. Our previous studies revealed that the expression of Cdk5 and its activator, p35, is upregulated in nociceptive neurons during peripheral inflammation. The aim of the present study was to characterize the involvement of Cdk5 in orofacial pain. Since mechanical hyperalgesia is the distinctive sign of many orofacial pain conditions, we adapted an existing orofacial stimulation test to assess the behavioral responses to mechanical stimulation in the trigeminal region of the transgenic mice with either reduced or increased Cdk5 activity.
Mice overexpressing or lacking p35, an activator of Cdk5, showed altered phenotype in response to noxious mechanical stimulation in the trigeminal area. Mice with increased Cdk5 activity displayed aversive behavior to mechanical stimulation as indicated by a significant decrease in reward licking events and licking time. The number of reward licking/facial contact events was significantly decreased in these mice as the mechanical intensity increased. By contrast, mice deficient in Cdk5 activity displayed mechanical hypoalgesia.
Collectively, our findings demonstrate for the first time the important role of Cdk5 in orofacial mechanical nociception. Modulation of Cdk5 activity in primary sensory neurons makes it an attractive potential target for the development of novel analgesics that could be used to treat multiple orofacial pain conditions.
Cdk5; p35; Trigeminal ganglia; Orofacial pain; Mouse model
Our previous work demonstrated that persistent peripheral nociception (PPN) leads to synaptic plasticity and functional changes in the rat hippocampus. The protein kinase mTOR is a critical regulator of protein synthesis-dependent synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus as well as synaptic plasticity associated with central and peripheral pain sensitization. We examined the role of mTOR signaling in pain-associated entorhinal cortex (EC) - hippocampal synaptic plasticity to reveal possible cellular mechanisms underlying the effects of chronic pain on cognition and emotion.
Subcutaneous injection of bee venom (BV) into one hind paw to induce PPN resulted in sustained (> 8 h) mTOR phospho-activation and enhanced phosphorylation of the mTOR target p70 S6 kinase (S6K) in the hippocampus. The magnitude and duration of long-term potentiation (LTP) in both EC - dentate gyrus (DG) and EC - CA1 synaptic pathways were elevated in BV-treated rats as measured by microelectrode array recording. Moreover, the number of potentiated synapses in the hippocampus was markedly upregulated by BV-induced PPN. Both elevated mTOR-S6K signaling and enhanced LTP induced by BV injection were reversed by systemic injection of the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin (RAPA). Rats injected with BV exhibited markedly reduced ambulation and exploratory activity in the open field (signs of depression and anxiety) compared to controls, and these effects were also reversed by RAPA.
We suggest that PPN-induced enhancement of synaptic plasticity in EC - hippocampal pathways and the behavioral effects of PPN are dependent on mTOR-S6K signaling.
Bee venom; Hippocampal formation; Synaptic plasticity; Rapamycin; mTOR signaling pathway
Phosphorylation sites in the C-terminus of mu-opioid receptors (MORs) are known to play critical roles in the receptor functions. Our understanding of their participation in opioid analgesia is mostly based on studies of opioid effects on mutant receptors expressed in in vitro preparations, including cell lines, isolated neurons and brain slices. The behavioral consequences of the mutation have not been fully explored due to the complexity in studies of mutant receptors in vivo. To facilitate the determination of the contribution of phosphorylation sites in MOR to opioid-induced analgesic behaviors, we expressed mutant and wild-type human MORs (hMORs) in sensory dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons, a major site for nociceptive (pain) signaling and determined morphine- and the full MOR agonist, DAMGO,-induced effects on heat-induced hyperalgesic behaviors and potassium current (IK) desensitization in these rats.
A mutant hMOR DNA with the putative phosphorylation threonine site at position 394 replaced by an alanine (T394A), i.e., hMOR-T, or a plasmid containing wild type hMOR (as a positive control) was intrathecally delivered. The plasmid containing GFP or saline was used as the negative control. To limit the expression of exogenous DNA to neurons of DRGs, a neuron-specific promoter was included in the plasmid. Following a plasmid injection, hMOR-T or hMOR receptors were expressed in small and medium DRG neurons. Compared with saline or GFP rats, the analgesic potency of morphine was increased to a similar extent in hMOR-T and hMOR rats. Morphine induced minimum IK desensitization in both rat groups. In contrast, DAMGO increased analgesic potency and elicited IK desensitization to a significantly less extent in hMOR-T than in hMOR rats. The development and extent of acute and chronic tolerance induced by repeated morphine or DAMGO applications were not altered by the T394A mutation.
These results indicate that phosphorylation of T394 plays a critical role in determining the potency of DAMGO-induced analgesia and IK desensitization, but has limited effect on morphine-induced responses. On the other hand, the mutation contributes minimally to both DAMGO- and morphine-induced behavioral tolerance. Furthermore, the study shows that plasmid gene delivery of mutant receptors to DRG neurons is a useful strategy to explore nociceptive behavioral consequences of the mutation.
Opioid tolerance; Opioid receptors; T394A mutation; Dorsal root ganglion; Nociception; Plasmid DNA injection
The spared nerve injury (SNI) model of neuropathic pain produces robust and reproducible behavioral mechanical hypersensitivity. Although this rodent model of neuropathic pain has been well established and widely used, peripheral mechanisms underlying this phenotype remain incompletely understood. Here we investigated the role of cutaneous sensory fibers in the maintenance of mechanical hyperalgesia in mice post-SNI.
SNI produced robust, long-lasting behavioral mechanical hypersensitivity compared to sham and naïve controls beginning by post-operative day (POD) 1 and continuing through at least POD 180. We performed teased fiber recordings on single cutaneous fibers from the spared sural nerve using ex vivo skin-nerve preparations. Recordings were made between POD 16–42 after SNI or sham surgery. Aδ-mechanoreceptors (AM) and C fibers, many of which are nociceptors, from SNI mice fired significantly more action potentials in response to suprathreshold mechanical stimulation than did fibers from either sham or naïve control mice. However, there was no increase in spontaneous activity.
To our knowledge, this is the first study evaluating the contribution of primary afferent fibers in the SNI model. These data suggest that enhanced suprathreshold firing in AM and C fibers may play a role in the marked, persistent mechanical hypersensitivity observed in this model. These results may provide insight into mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain in humans.
Neuropathic; Nociceptor; Sensory neuron; C fiber; A fiber; Hyperalgesia; Mechanotransduction
Voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs) are well known for its importance in synaptic transmission in the peripheral and central nervous system. However, the role of different VGCCs in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has not been studied. Here, we use a multi-electrode array recording system (MED64) to study the contribution of different types of calcium channels in glutamatergic excitatory synaptic transmission in the ACC. We found that only the N-type calcium channel blocker ω-conotoxin-GVIA (ω-Ctx-GVIA) produced a great inhibition of basal synaptic transmission, especially in the superficial layer. Other calcium channel blockers that act on L-, P/Q-, R-, and T-type had no effect. We also tested the effects of several neuromodulators with or without ω-Ctx-GVIA. We found that N-type VGCC contributed partially to (1S,3R)-1-aminocyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid- and (R)-Baclofen-induced synaptic inhibition. By contrast, the inhibitory effects of 2-Chloroadenosine and carbamoylcholine chloride did not differ with or without ω-Ctx-GVIA, indicating that they may act through other mechanisms. Our results provide strong evidence that N-type VGCCs mediate fast synaptic transmission in the ACC.
Chronic pain arising from degenerative diseases of the joint such as osteoarthritis (OA) has a strong peripheral component which is likely to be mediator driven. Current treatments which reduce the production of such mediators i.e. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can help to lessen pain in OA patients. However, this is not always the case and complete pain relief is rarely achieved, suggesting that additional unidentified mediators play a role. Here we have investigated the notion that chemokines might act as such pain mediators in OA.
Using the monosodium iodoacetate (MIA) model of chronic joint pain the expression of over 90 different inflammatory mediators, mainly cytokines and chemokines, were measured in tissues taken from the femorotibial joint (cartilage, subchondral bone, fat pad) using custom-made quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) array cards. At both the day 3 and 14 time points, numerous inflammatory mediators were significantly up-regulated in these tissues, although it was clear that the largest transcriptional dysregulation occurred in the cartilage. Using individual qPCR to measure immune cell markers, a significant infiltration of macrophages was measured in the cartilage and fat pad at day 3. Neutrophil infiltration was also measured in the fat pad at the same time point, but no infiltration was observed at day 14. Combination of mRNA expression data from different time points and tissues identified the chemokines, CCL2, 7 and 9 as being consistently up-regulated. The overall increase in CCL2 expression was also measured at the protein level.
Chemokines in general and CCL2, 7 and 9 in particular, represent promising targets for further studies into the identification of new pain mediators in chronic joint pain.
Pain; Chemokine; Osteoarthritis; Monosodium iodoacetate; Macrophages; Neutrophils
Oxaliplatin, the third-generation platinum compound, has evolved as one of the most important therapeutic agents in colorectal cancer chemotherapy. The main limiting factor in oxaliplatin treatment is painful neuropathy that is difficult to treat. This side effect has been studied for several years, but its full mechanism is still inconclusive, and effective treatment does not exist. Data suggest that oxaliplatin’s initial neurotoxic effect is peripheral and oxidative stress-dependent. A spinal target is also suggested in its mechanism of action. The flavonoids rutin and quercetin have been described as cell-protecting agents because of their antioxidant, antinociceptive, and anti-inflammatory actions. We proposed a preventive effect of these agents on oxaliplatin-induced painful peripheral neuropathy based on their antioxidant properties.
Oxaliplatin (1 mg/kg, i.v.) was injected in male Swiss mice, twice a week (total of nine injections). The development of sensory alterations, such as thermal and mechanical allodynia, was evaluated using the tail immersion test in cold water (10°C) and the von Frey test. Rutin and quercetin (25-100 mg/kg, i.p.) were injected 30 min before each oxaliplatin injection. The animals’ spinal cords were removed for histopathological and immunohistochemical evaluation and malondialdehyde assay.
Oxaliplatin significantly increased thermal and mechanical nociceptive response, effects prevented by quercetin and rutin at all doses. Fos immunostaining in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord confirmed these results. The oxidative stress assays mainly showed that oxaliplatin induced peroxidation in the spinal cord and that rutin and quercetin decreased this effect. The flavonoids also decreased inducible nitric oxide synthase and nitrotyrosine immunostaining in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. These results suggest that nitric oxide and peroxynitrite are also involved in the neurotoxic effect of oxaliplatin and that rutin and quercetin can inhibit their effect in the spinal cord. We also observed the preservation of dorsal horn structure using histopathological analyses.
Oxaliplatin induced painful peripheral neuropathy in mice, an effect that was prevented by rutin and quercetin. The mechanism of action of oxaliplatin appears to be, at least, partially oxidative stress-induced damage in dorsal horn neurons, with the involvement of lipid peroxidation and protein nitrosylation.
Oxaliplatin; Oxidative stress; Pain; Flavonoids; Neuropathy
Antagonists of N-type voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCC), Cav2.2, can manage severe chronic pain with intrathecal use and may be effective systemically. A series of novel ω-conotoxins that selectively inhibit N-type VGCCs was isolated from Conus catus. In the present study, the potency and reversibility of ω-conotoxins CVID, CVIE and CVIF to inhibit N-type calcium currents were investigated in mouse isolated dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. The systemic potency of each ω-conotoxin to reverse signs of mouse chronic inflammatory pain was also compared.
In DRG neurons, the rank order of potency to inhibit N-type calcium currents was CVIE > CVIF > CVID. After subcutaneous administration, CVID and CVIE, but not CVIF, partially reversed impaired weight bearing in mice injected with Freund’s complete adjuvant (CFA) three days prior to testing. No side-effects associated with systemic administration of ω-conotoxins were observed.
The present study indicates a potential for CVID and CVIE to be developed as systemically active analgesics with no accompanying neurological side-effects.
Calcium channel; Conotoxin; Inflammatory pain
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is known to regulate cell proliferation and growth by controlling protein translation. Recently, it has been shown that mTOR signaling pathway is involved in long-term synaptic plasticity. However, the role of mTOR under different pain conditions is less clear. In this study, the spatiotemporal activation of mTOR that contributes to pain-related behaviors was investigated using a novel animal inflammatory pain model induced by BmK I, a sodium channel-specific modulator purified from scorpion venom. In this study, intraplantar injections of BmK I were found to induce the activation of mTOR, p70 ribosomal S6 protein kinase (p70 S6K) and eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1) in rat L5-L6 spinal neurons. In the spinal cord, mTOR, p70 S6K and 4E-BP1 were observed to be activated in the ipsilateral and contralateral regions, peaking at 1–2 h and recovery at 24 h post-intraplantar (i.pl.) BmK I administration. In addition, intrathecal (i.t.) injection of rapamycin – a specific inhibitor of mTOR – was observed to result in the reduction of spontaneous pain responses and the attenuation of unilateral thermal and bilateral mechanical hypersensitivity elicited by BmK I. Thus, these results indicate that the mTOR signaling pathway is mobilized in the induction and maintenance of pain-activated hypersensitivity.
BmK I; mTOR; p70S6K; 4E-BP1; Rapamycin; Pain; Mirror-image mechanical hypersensitivity
The trigeminal subnuclei interpolaris/caudalis transition zones (Vi/Vc) play an important role in orofacial deep pain, however, the role of primary afferent projections to the Vi/Vc remains to be determined. This study investigated the functional significance of hyperalgesia to the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-tyrosine kinase B (trkB) signaling system in trigeminal ganglion (TRG) neurons projecting to the Vi/Vc transition zone following masseter muscle (MM) inflammation.
The escape threshold from mechanical stimulation applied to skin above the inflamed MM was significantly lower than in naïve rats. Fluorogold (FG) labeling was used to identify the TRG neurons innervating the MM, while microbeads (MB) were used to label neurons projecting to the Vi/Vc region. FG/MB-labeled TRG neurons were immunoreactive (IR) for BDNF and trkB. The mean number of BDNF/trkB-IR small/medium-diameter TRG neurons was significantly higher in inflamed rats than in naïve rats. In whole-cell current-clamp experiments, the majority of dissociated small-diameter TRG neurons showed a depolarization response to BDNF that was associated with spike discharge, and the concentration of BDNF that evoked a depolarizing response was significantly lower in the inflamed rats. In addition, the relative number of BDNF-induced spikes during current injection was significantly higher in inflamed rats. The BDNF-induced changes in TRG neuron excitability was abolished by tyrosine kinase inhibitor, K252a.
The present study provided evidence that BDNF enhances the excitability of the small-diameter TRG neurons projecting onto the Vi/Vc following MM inflammation. These findings suggest that ganglionic BDNF-trkB signaling is a therapeutic target for the treatment of trigeminal inflammatory hyperalgesia.
Cancer-associated pain is a major cause of poor quality of life in cancer patients and is frequently resistant to conventional therapy. Recent studies indicate that some hematopoietic growth factors, namely granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GMCSF) and granulocyte colony stimulating factor (GCSF), are abundantly released in the tumor microenvironment and play a key role in regulating tumor-nerve interactions and tumor-associated pain by activating receptors on dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Moreover, these hematopoietic factors have been highly implicated in postsurgical pain, inflammatory pain and osteoarthritic pain. However, the molecular mechanisms via which G-/GMCSF bring about nociceptive sensitization and elicit pain are not known.
In order to elucidate G-/GMCSF mediated transcriptional changes in the sensory neurons, we performed a comprehensive, genome-wide analysis of changes in the transcriptome of DRG neurons brought about by exposure to GMCSF or GCSF. We present complete information on regulated genes and validated profiling analyses and report novel regulatory networks and interaction maps revealed by detailed bioinformatics analyses. Amongst these, we validate calpain 2, matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) and a RhoGTPase Rac1 as well as Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) as transcriptional targets of G-/GMCSF and demonstrate the importance of MMP9 and Rac1 in GMCSF-induced nociceptor sensitization.
With integrative approach of bioinformatics, in vivo pharmacology and behavioral analyses, our results not only indicate that transcriptional control by G-/GMCSF signaling regulates a variety of established pain modulators, but also uncover a large number of novel targets, paving the way for translational analyses in the context of pain disorders.