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Papers Of The Week
2024 Feb 13 - Lancet
Editor's Pick

Abatacept inhibits inflammation and onset of rheumatoid arthritis in individuals at high risk (ARIAA): a randomised, international, multicentre, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Authors: Rech J, Tascilar K, Hagen M, Kleyer A, Manger B, Schoenau V, Hueber AJ, Kleinert S, Baraliakos X, Braun J, Kiltz U, Fleck M, Rubbert-Roth A, Kofler DM, Behrens F, Feuchtenberger M, Zaenker M, Voll R, Venhoff N, Thiel J, Glaser C, Feist E, Burmester GR, Karberg K, Strunk J, Cañete JD, Senolt L, Filkova M, Naredo E, Largo R, Krönke G, D'Agostino MA, Østergaard M, Schett G
Read Abstract
Individuals with anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPAs) and subclinical inflammatory changes in joints are at high risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment strategies to intercept this pre-stage clinical disease remain to be developed. We aimed to assess whether 6-month treatment with abatacept improves inflammation in preclinical rheumatoid arthritis.

2024 Feb 13 - Lancet
Editor's Pick

Abatacept in individuals at high risk of rheumatoid arthritis (APIPPRA): a randomised, double-blind, multicentre, parallel, placebo-controlled, phase 2b clinical trial.

Authors: Cope AP, Jasenecova M, Vasconcelos JC, Filer A, Raza K, Qureshi S, D'Agostino MA, McInnes IB, Isaacs JD, Pratt AG, Fisher BA, Buckley CD, Emery P, Ho P, Buch MH, Ciurtin C, van Schaardenburg D, Huizinga T, Toes R, Georgiou E, Kelly J, Murphy C, Prevost AT
Read Abstract

Individuals with serum antibodies to citrullinated protein antigens (ACPA), rheumatoid factor, and symptoms, such as inflammatory joint pain, are at high risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. In the arthritis prevention in the pre-clinical phase of rheumatoid arthritis with abatacept (APIPPRA) trial, we aimed to evaluate the feasibility, efficacy, and acceptability of treating high risk individuals with the T-cell co-stimulation modulator abatacept.


2024 Jan 31 - Neuron
Editor's Pick

Anterior cingulate cortex projections to the dorsal medial striatum underlie insomnia associated with chronic pain.

Authors: Li YD, Luo YJ, Su WK, Ge J, Crowther A, Chen ZK, Wang L, Lazarus M, Liu ZL, Qu WM, Huang ZL
Read Abstract

Chronic pain often leads to the development of sleep disturbances. However, the precise neural circuit mechanisms responsible for sleep disorders in chronic pain have remained largely unknown. Here, we present compelling evidence that hyperactivity of pyramidal neurons (PNs) in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) drives insomnia in a mouse model of nerve-injury-induced chronic pain. After nerve injury, ACC PNs displayed spontaneous hyperactivity selectively in periods of insomnia. We then show that ACC PNs were both necessary for developing chronic-pain-induced insomnia and sufficient to mimic sleep loss in naive mice. Importantly, combining optogenetics and electrophysiological recordings, we found that the ACC projection to the dorsal medial striatum (DMS) underlies chronic-pain-induced insomnia through enhanced activity and plasticity of ACC-DMS dopamine D1R neuron synapses. Our findings shed light on the pivotal role of ACC PNs in developing chronic-pain-induced sleep disorders.


2024 Feb 13 - Adv Sci (Weinh)
Editor's Pick

Discovery of a Small Molecule Activator of Slack (Kcnt1) Potassium Channels That Significantly Reduces Scratching in Mouse Models of Histamine-Independent and Chronic Itch.

Authors: Balzulat A, Zhu WF, Flauaus C, Hernandez-Olmos V, Heering J, Sethumadhavan S, Dubiel M, Frank A, Menge A, Hebchen M, Metzner K, Lu R, Lukowski R, Ruth P, Knapp S, Müller S, Steinhilber D, Hänelt I, Stark H, Proschak E, Schmidtko A
Read Abstract

Various disorders are accompanied by histamine-independent itching, which is often resistant to the currently available therapies. Here, it is reported that the pharmacological activation of Slack (Kcnt1, K 1.1), a potassium channel highly expressed in itch-sensitive sensory neurons, has therapeutic potential for the treatment of itching. Based on the Slack-activating antipsychotic drug, loxapine, a series of new derivatives with improved pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic profiles is designed that enables to validate Slack as a pharmacological target in vivo. One of these new Slack activators, compound 6, exhibits negligible dopamine D and D receptor binding, unlike loxapine. Notably, compound 6 displays potent on-target antipruritic activity in multiple mouse models of acute histamine-independent and chronic itch without motor side effects. These properties make compound 6 a lead molecule for the development of new antipruritic therapies targeting Slack.


2024 Feb 20 - Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Editor's Pick

A comprehensive patient-specific prediction model for temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis progression.

Authors: Al Turkestani N, Li T, Bianchi J, Gurgel M, Prieto J, Shah H, Benavides E, Soki F, Mishina Y, Fontana M, Rao A, Zhu H, Cevidanes L
Read Abstract

Temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis (TMJ OA) is a prevalent degenerative disease characterized by chronic pain and impaired jaw function. The complexity of TMJ OA has hindered the development of prognostic tools, posing a significant challenge in timely, patient-specific management. Addressing this gap, our research employs a comprehensive, multidimensional approach to advance TMJ OA prognostication. We conducted a prospective study with 106 subjects, 74 of whom were followed up after 2 to 3 y of conservative treatment. Central to our methodology is the development of an innovative, open-source predictive modeling framework, the Ensemble via Hierarchical Predictions through Nested cross-validation tool (EHPN). This framework synergistically integrates 18 feature selection, statistical, and machine learning methods to yield an accuracy of 0.87, with an area under the ROC curve of 0.72 and an F1 score of 0.82. Our study, beyond technical advancements, emphasizes the global impact of TMJ OA, recognizing its unique demographic occurrence. We highlight key factors influencing TMJ OA progression. Using SHAP analysis, we identified personalized prognostic predictors: lower values of headache, lower back pain, restless sleep, condyle high gray level-GL-run emphasis, articular fossa GL nonuniformity, and long-run low GL emphasis; and higher values of superior joint space, mouth opening, saliva Vascular-endothelium-growth-factor, Matrix-metalloproteinase-7, serum Epithelial-neutrophil-activating-peptide, and age indicate recovery likelihood. Our multidimensional and multimodal EHPN tool enhances clinicians’ decision-making, offering a transformative translational infrastructure. The EHPN model stands as a significant contribution to precision medicine, offering a paradigm shift in the management of temporomandibular disorders and potentially influencing broader applications in personalized healthcare.


2024 Feb 01 - Lancet Rheumatol
Editor's Pick

Nociceptive, neuropathic, or nociplastic low back pain? The low back pain phenotyping (BACPAP) consortium’s international and multidisciplinary consensus recommendations.

Authors: Nijs J, Kosek E, Chiarotto A, Cook C, Danneels LA, Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C, Hodges PW, Koes B, Louw A, Ostelo R, Scholten-Peeters GGM, Sterling M, Alkassabi O, Alsobayel H, Beales D, Bilika P, Clark JR, De Baets L, Demoulin C, de Zoete RMJ, Elma Ö, Gutke A, Hanafi R, Hotz Boendermaker S, Huysmans E, Kapreli E, Lundberg M, Malfliet A, Meziat Filho N, Reis FJJ, Voogt L, Zimney K, Smeets R, Morlion B, de Vlam K, George SZ
Read Abstract

The potential to classify low back pain as being characterised by dominant nociceptive, neuropathic, or nociplastic mechanisms is a clinically relevant issue. Preliminary evidence suggests that these low back pain phenotypes might respond differently to treatments; however, more research must be done before making specific recommendations. Accordingly, the low back pain phenotyping (BACPAP) consortium was established as a group of 36 clinicians and researchers from 13 countries (five continents) and 29 institutions, to apply a modified Nominal Group Technique methodology to develop international and multidisciplinary consensus recommendations to provide guidance for identifying the dominant pain phenotype in patients with low back pain, and potentially adapt pain management strategies. The BACPAP consortium’s recommendations are also intended to provide direction for future clinical research by building on the established clinical criteria for neuropathic and nociplastic pain. The BACPAP consortium’s consensus recommendations are a necessary early step in the process to determine if personalised pain medicine based on pain phenotypes is feasible for low back pain management. Therefore, these recommendations are not ready to be implemented in clinical practice until additional evidence is generated that is specific to these low back pain phenotypes.


2024 Feb 06 - Nat Commun
Editor's Pick

Sensory Schwann cells set perceptual thresholds for touch and selectively regulate mechanical nociception.

Authors: Ojeda-Alonso J, Calvo-Enrique L, Paricio-Montesinos R, Kumar R, Zhang MD, Poulet JFA, Ernfors P, Lewin GR
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Previous work identified nociceptive Schwann cells that can initiate pain. Consistent with the existence of inherently mechanosensitive sensory Schwann cells, we found that in mice, the mechanosensory function of almost all nociceptors, including those signaling fast pain, were dependent on sensory Schwann cells. In polymodal nociceptors, sensory Schwann cells signal mechanical, but not cold or heat pain. Terminal Schwann cells also surround mechanoreceptor nerve-endings within the Meissner’s corpuscle and in hair follicle lanceolate endings that both signal vibrotactile touch. Within Meissner´s corpuscles, two molecularly and functionally distinct sensory Schwann cells positive for Sox10 and Sox2 differentially modulate rapidly adapting mechanoreceptor function. Using optogenetics we show that Meissner’s corpuscle Schwann cells are necessary for the perception of low threshold vibrotactile stimuli. These results show that sensory Schwann cells within diverse glio-neural mechanosensory end-organs are sensors for mechanical pain as well as necessary for touch perception.


2024 Feb 06 - J Clin Invest
Editor's Pick

METTL14-mediated m6A epitranscriptomic modification contributes to chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain by stabilizing GluN2A expression via IGF2BP2.

Authors: Lu W, Yang X, Zhong W, Chen G, Guo X, Ye Q, Xu Y, Qi Z, Ye Y, Zhang J, Wang Y, Wang X, Wang S, Zhao Q, Zeng W, Huang J, Ma H, Xie J
Read Abstract

Epigenetics is a biological process that modifies and regulates gene expression, affects neuronal function, and contributes to pain. However, the mechanism by which epigenetics facilitates and maintains chronic pain is poorly understood. We aimed to determine whether N6-methyladenosine (m6A) specifically modified by methyltransferase 14 (METTL14) alters neuronal activity and governs pain by sensitizing the GluN2A subunit of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in a model of chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain (CINP). Using dot blotting, immunofluorescence, gain/loss-of-function, and behavioral assays, we found that m6A levels were upregulated in L4-L6 DRG neurons in the CINP in a DBP/METT14-dependent manner, which was also confirmed in human DRGs. Blocking METTL14 reduced m6A methylation and attenuated pain hypersensitivity. Mechanistically, METTL14-mediated m6A modification facilitated the synaptic plasticity of DRG neurons by enhancing the GluN2A subunit of NMDAR, and inhibiting METTL14 blocked this effect. In contrast, overexpression of METTL14 upregulated m6A modifications, enhanced presynaptic NMDAR activity in DRG neurons, and facilitated pain sensation. Our findings reveal a previously unrecognized mechanism of METTL14-mediated m6A modification in DRG neurons to maintain neuropathic pain. Targeting these molecules may provide a new strategy for pain treatment.


2024 Feb 02 - Sci Adv
Editor's Pick

GPR39 regulated spinal glycinergic inhibition and mechanical inflammatory pain.

Authors: Bai HH, Wang KL, Zeng XR, Li J, Li Y, Xu JY, Zhang Y, Jiang HF, Yang X, Suo ZW, Hu XD
Read Abstract

G protein-coupled receptor 39 (GPR39) senses the change of extracellular divalent zinc ion and signals through multiple G proteins to a broad spectrum of downstream effectors. Here, we found that GPR39 was prevalent at inhibitory synapses of spinal cord somatostatin-positive (SOM) interneurons, a mechanosensitive subpopulation that is critical for the conveyance of mechanical pain. GPR39 complexed specifically with inhibitory glycine receptors (GlyRs) and helped maintain glycinergic transmission in a manner independent of G protein signalings. Targeted knockdown of GPR39 in SOM interneurons reduced the glycinergic inhibition and facilitated the excitatory output from SOM interneurons to spinoparabrachial neurons that engaged superspinal neural circuits encoding both the sensory discriminative and affective motivational domains of pain experience. Our data showed that pharmacological activation of GPR39 or augmenting GPR39 interaction with GlyRs at the spinal level effectively alleviated the sensory and affective pain induced by complete Freund’s adjuvant and implicated GPR39 as a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of inflammatory mechanical pain.


2024 Jan 24 - ACS Cent Sci
Editor's Pick

Genetically Encoded Photocatalysis Enables Spatially Restricted Optochemical Modulation of Neurons in Live Mice.

Authors: Zeng K, Jiao ZH, Jiang Q, He R, Zhang Y, Li WG, Xu TL, Chen Y
Read Abstract

Light provides high temporal precision for neuronal modulations. Small molecules are advantageous for neuronal modulation due to their structural diversity, allowing them to suit versatile targets. However, current optochemical methods release uncaged small molecules with uniform concentrations in the irradiation area, which lack spatial specificity as counterpart optogenetic methods from genetic encoding for photosensitive proteins. Photocatalysis provides spatial specificity by generating reactive species in the proximity of photocatalysts. However, current photocatalytic methods use antibody-tagged heavy-metal photocatalysts for spatial specificity, which are unsuitable for neuronal applications. Here, we report a genetically encoded metal-free photocatalysis method for the optochemical modulation of neurons via deboronative hydroxylation. The genetically encoded photocatalysts generate doxorubicin, a mitochondrial uncoupler, and baclofen by uncaging stable organoboronate precursors. The mitochondria, nucleus, membrane, cytosol, and ER-targeted drug delivery are achieved by this method. The distinct signaling pathway dissection in a single projection is enabled by the dual optogenetic and optochemical control of synaptic transmission. The itching signaling pathway is investigated by photocatalytic uncaging under live-mice skin for the first time by visible light irradiation. The cell-type-specific release of baclofen reveals the GABAR activation on Na1.8-expressing nociceptor terminals instead of pan peripheral sensory neurons for itch alleviation in live mice.


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