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Papers Of The Week
2023 Sep 27 - Pain
Editor's Pick

Sex differences in visceral sensitivity and brain activity in a rat model of comorbid pain: a longitudinal study.

Authors: Da Silva JT, Hernandez-Rojas LG, Mekonen HK, Hanson S, Melemedjian O, Scott AJ, Ernst RK, Seminowicz DA, Traub RJ
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Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are 2 chronic overlapping pain conditions (COPCs) that present with significant comorbidity. Both conditions are more prevalent in women and are exacerbated by stress. While peripheral mechanisms might contribute to pain hypersensitivity for each individual condition, mechanisms underlying the comorbidity are poorly understood, complicating pain management when multiple conditions are involved. In this study, longitudinal behavioral and functional MRI-based brain changes have been identified in an animal model of TMD-like pain (masseter muscle inflammation followed by stress) that induces de novo IBS-like comorbid visceral pain hypersensitivity in rats. In particular, data indicate that increased activity in the insula and regions of the reward and limbic systems are associated with more pronounced and longer-lasting visceral pain behaviors in female rats, while the faster pain resolution in male rats may be due to increased activity in descending pain inhibitory pathways. These findings suggest the critical role of brain mechanisms in chronic pain conditions and that sex may be a risk factor of developing COPCs.

2023 Sep 26 - Cell Mol Immunol
Editor's Pick

Thiostrepton alleviates experimental colitis by promoting RORγt ubiquitination and modulating dysbiosis.

Authors: Luo Y, Liu C, Luo Y, Zhang X, Li J, Hu C, Yang S
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Thiostrepton (TST) is a natural antibiotic with pleiotropic properties. This study aimed to elucidate the therapeutic effect of TST on experimental colitis and identify its targets. The effect of TST on colon inflammation was evaluated in a dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis model and a T-cell transfer colitis model. The therapeutic targets of TST were investigated by cytokine profiling, immunophenotyping and biochemical approaches. The effect of TST on the gut microbiota and its contribution to colitis were evaluated in mice with DSS-induced colitis that were subjected to gut microbiota depletion and fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). Alterations in the gut microbiota caused by TST were determined by 16S rDNA and metagenomic sequencing. Here, we showed that TST treatment significantly ameliorated colitis in the DSS-induced and T-cell transfer models. Specifically, TST targeted the retinoic acid-related orphan nuclear receptor RORγt to reduce the production of IL-17A by γδ T cells, type 3 innate lymphoid cells (ILC3s) and Th17 cells in mice with DSS-induced colitis. Similarly, TST selectively prevented the development of Th17 cells in the T-cell transfer colitis model and the differentiation of naïve CD4 T cells into Th17 cells in vitro. Mechanistically, TST induced the ubiquitination and degradation of RORγt by promoting the binding of Itch to RORγt. Moreover, TST also reversed dysbiosis to control colonic inflammation. Taken together, these results from our study describe the previously unexplored role of TST in alleviating colonic inflammation by reducing IL-17A production and modulating dysbiosis, suggesting that TST is a promising candidate drug for the treatment of IBD.

2023 Sep 21 - Cell Rep
Editor's Pick

The thalamic reticular nucleus-lateral habenula circuit regulates depressive-like behaviors in chronic stress and chronic pain.

Authors: Wang XY, Xu X, Chen R, Jia WB, Xu PF, Liu XQ, Zhang Y, Liu XF, Zhang Y
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Chronic stress and chronic pain are two major predisposing factors to trigger depression. Enhanced excitatory input to the lateral habenula (LHb) has been implicated in the pathophysiology of depression. However, the contribution of inhibitory transmission remains unclear. Here, we dissect an inhibitory projection from the sensory thalamic reticular nucleus (sTRN) to the LHb, which is activated by acute aversive stimuli. However, chronic restraint stress (CRS) weakens sTRN-LHb synaptic strength, and this synaptic attenuation is indispensable for CRS-induced LHb neural hyperactivity and depression onset. Moreover, artificially inhibiting the sTRN-LHb circuit induces depressive-like behaviors in healthy mice, while enhancing this circuit relieves depression induced by both chronic stress and chronic pain. Intriguingly, neither neuropathic pain nor comorbid mechanical hypersensitivity in chronic stress is affected by this pathway. Altogether, our study demonstrates an sTRN-LHb circuit in establishing and modulating depression, thus shedding light on potential therapeutic targets for preventing or managing depression.

2023 Sep 19 - Anesthesiology
Editor's Pick

Opposing effects on descending control of nociception by mu and kappa opioid receptors in the anterior cingulate cortex.

Authors: Navratilova E, Qu C, Ji G, Neugebauer V, Guerrero M, Rosen H, Roberts E, Porreca F
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The efficiency of descending pain modulation, commonly assessed with the conditioned pain modulation (CPM) procedure, is diminished in patients with chronic pain. We hypothesized that the efficiency of pain modulation is controlled by cortical opioid circuits.

2023 Sep 12 - Neuron
Editor's Pick

A cholinergic circuit that relieves pain despite opioid tolerance.

Authors: Sullere S, Kunczt A, McGehee DS
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Chronic pain is a tremendous burden for afflicted individuals and society. Although opioids effectively relieve pain, significant adverse outcomes limit their utility and efficacy. To investigate alternate pain control mechanisms, we explored cholinergic signaling in the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG), a critical nexus for descending pain modulation. Biosensor assays revealed that pain states decreased acetylcholine release in vlPAG. Activation of cholinergic projections from the pedunculopontine tegmentum to vlPAG relieved pain, even in opioid-tolerant conditions, through ⍺7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Activating ⍺7 nAChRs with agonists or stimulating endogenous acetylcholine inhibited vlPAG neuronal activity through Ca and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPAR⍺)-dependent signaling. In vivo 2-photon imaging revealed that chronic pain induces aberrant excitability of vlPAG neuronal ensembles and that ⍺7 nAChR-mediated inhibition of these cells relieves pain, even after opioid tolerance. Finally, pain relief through these cholinergic mechanisms was not associated with tolerance, reward, or withdrawal symptoms, highlighting its potential clinical relevance.

2023 Sep 13 - Nat Commun
Editor's Pick

Human OPRM1 and murine Oprm1 promoter driven viral constructs for genetic access to μ-opioidergic cell types.

Authors: Salimando GJ, Tremblay S, Kimmey BA, Li J, Rogers SA, Wojick JA, McCall NM, Wooldridge LM, Rodrigues A, Borner T, Gardiner KL, Jayakar SS, Singeç I, Woolf CJ, Hayes MR, De Jonghe BC, Bennett FC, Bennett ML, Blendy JA, Platt ML, Creasy KT, Renthal WR, Ramakrishnan C, Deisseroth K, Corder G
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With concurrent global epidemics of chronic pain and opioid use disorders, there is a critical need to identify, target and manipulate specific cell populations expressing the mu-opioid receptor (MOR). However, available tools and transgenic models for gaining long-term genetic access to MOR+ neural cell types and circuits involved in modulating pain, analgesia and addiction across species are limited. To address this, we developed a catalog of MOR promoter (MORp) based constructs packaged into adeno-associated viral vectors that drive transgene expression in MOR+ cells. MORp constructs designed from promoter regions upstream of the mouse Oprm1 gene (mMORp) were validated for transduction efficiency and selectivity in endogenous MOR+ neurons in the brain, spinal cord, and periphery of mice, with additional studies revealing robust expression in rats, shrews, and human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived nociceptors. The use of mMORp for in vivo fiber photometry, behavioral chemogenetics, and intersectional genetic strategies is also demonstrated. Lastly, a human designed MORp (hMORp) efficiently transduced macaque cortical OPRM1+ cells. Together, our MORp toolkit provides researchers cell type specific genetic access to target and functionally manipulate mu-opioidergic neurons across a range of vertebrate species and translational models for pain, addiction, and neuropsychiatric disorders.

2023 Sep 14 - Adv Mater
Editor's Pick

Halide Perovskites-based Diffusive Memristors for Artificial Mechano-Nociceptive System.

Authors: Im IH, Baek JH, Kim SJ, Kim J, Park SH, Kim JY, Yang JJ, Jang HW
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Numerous efforts for emulating organ systems comprised of multiple functional units have driven substantial advancements in bio-realistic electronics and systems. The resistance change behavior observed in diffusive memristors shares similarities with the potential change in biological neurons. Here, the diffusive threshold switching phenomenon in Ag-incorporated organometallic halide perovskites is utilized to demonstrate the functions of afferent neurons. Halide perovskites-based diffusive memristors show a low threshold voltage of ∼0.2 V with little variation, attributed to the facile migration of Ag ions uniformly dispersed within the halide matrix. Based on the reversible and reliable volatile threshold switching, the memristors successfully demonstrate fundamental nociceptive functions including threshold firing, relaxation, and sensitization. Furthermore, to replicate the biological mechano-nociceptive phenomenon at a system level, an artificial mechano-nociceptive system is built by integrating a diffusive memristor with a force-sensing resistor. The presented system is capable of detecting and discerning the detrimental impact caused by a heavy steel ball, effectively exhibiting the corresponding sensitization response. By further extending the single nociceptive system into a 5 × 5 array, successful stereoscopic nociception of uneven impulses was achieved in the artificial skin system through array-scale sensitization. Our results represent significant progress in the field of bio-inspired electronics and systems. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

2023 Sep - Lancet Rheumatol
Editor's Pick

Global, regional, and national burden of osteoarthritis, 1990-2020 and projections to 2050: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021.

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Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in adults, characterised by chronic pain and loss of mobility. Osteoarthritis most frequently occurs after age 40 years and prevalence increases steeply with age. WHO has designated 2021-30 the decade of healthy ageing, which highlights the need to address diseases such as osteoarthritis, which strongly affect functional ability and quality of life. Osteoarthritis can coexist with, and negatively effect, other chronic conditions. Here we estimate the burden of hand, hip, knee, and other sites of osteoarthritis across geographies, age, sex, and time, with forecasts of prevalence to 2050.

2023 Aug - Acta Pharm Sin B
Editor's Pick

Potentiation of PIEZO2 mechanically-activated currents in sensory neurons mediates vincristine-induced mechanical hypersensitivity.

Authors: Duan M, Jia Y, Huo L, Gao Y, Wang J, Zhang W, Jia Z
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Vincristine, a widely used chemotherapeutic agent for treating different cancer, often induces severe peripheral neuropathic pain. A common symptom of vincristine-induced peripheral neuropathic pain is mechanical allodynia and hyperalgesia. However, mechanisms underlying vincristine-induced mechanical allodynia and hyperalgesia are not well understood. In the present study, we show with behavioral assessment in rats that vincristine induces mechanical allodynia and hyperalgesia in a PIEZO2 channel-dependent manner since gene knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of PIEZO2 channels alleviates vincristine-induced mechanical hypersensitivity. Electrophysiological results show that vincristine potentiates PIEZO2 rapidly adapting (RA) mechanically-activated (MA) currents in rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. We have found that vincristine-induced potentiation of PIEZO2 MA currents is due to the enhancement of static plasma membrane tension (SPMT) of these cells following vincristine treatment. Reducing SPMT of DRG neurons by cytochalasin D (CD), a disruptor of the actin filament, abolishes vincristine-induced potentiation of PIEZO2 MA currents, and suppresses vincristine-induced mechanical hypersensitivity in rats. Collectively, enhancing SPMT and subsequently potentiating PIEZO2 MA currents in primary afferent neurons may be an underlying mechanism responsible for vincristine-induced mechanical allodynia and hyperalgesia in rats. Targeting to inhibit PIEZO2 channels may be an effective analgesic method to attenuate vincristine-induced mechanical hypersensitivity.

2023 Sep 05 - Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Editor's Pick

A suicidal mechanism for the exquisite temperature sensitivity of TRPV1.

Authors: Mugo A, Chou R, Chin F, Liu B, Jiang QX, Qin F
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The vanilloid receptor TRPV1 is an exquisite nociceptive sensor of noxious heat, but its temperature-sensing mechanism is yet to define. Thermodynamics dictate that this channel must undergo an unusually energetic allosteric transition. Thus, it is of fundamental importance to measure directly the energetics of this transition in order to properly decipher its temperature-sensing mechanism. Previously, using submillisecond temperature jumps and patch-clamp recording, we estimated that the heat activation for TRPV1 opening incurs an enthalpy change on the order of 100 kcal/mol. Although this energy is on a scale unparalleled by other known biological receptors, the generally imperfect allosteric coupling in proteins implies that the actual amount of heat uptake driving the TRPV1 transition could be much larger. In this paper, we apply differential scanning calorimetry to directly monitor the heat flow in TRPV1 that accompanies its temperature-induced conformational transition. Our measurements show that heat invokes robust, complex thermal transitions in TRPV1 that include both channel opening and a partial protein unfolding transition and that these two processes are inherently coupled. Our findings support that irreversible protein unfolding, which is generally thought to be destructive to physiological function, is essential to TRPV1 thermal transduction and, possibly, to other strongly temperature-dependent processes in biology.

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