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Papers Of The Week
2024 Apr 16 - Nat Commun
Editor's Pick

CXCL5 activates CXCR2 in nociceptive sensory neurons to drive joint pain and inflammation in experimental gouty arthritis.

Authors: Yin C, Liu B, Dong Z, Shi S, Peng C, Pan Y, Bi X, Nie H, Zhang Y, Tai Y, Hu Q, Wang X, Shao X, An H, Fang J, Wang C, Liu B
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Gouty arthritis evokes joint pain and inflammation. Mechanisms driving gout pain and inflammation remain incompletely understood. Here we show that CXCL5 activates CXCR2 expressed on nociceptive sensory neurons to drive gout pain and inflammation. CXCL5 expression was increased in ankle joints of gout arthritis model mice, whereas CXCR2 showed expression in joint-innervating sensory neurons. CXCL5 activates CXCR2 expressed on nociceptive sensory neurons to trigger TRPA1 activation, resulting in hyperexcitability and pain. Neuronal CXCR2 coordinates with neutrophilic CXCR2 to contribute to CXCL5-induced neutrophil chemotaxis via triggering CGRP- and substance P-mediated vasodilation and plasma extravasation. Neuronal Cxcr2 deletion ameliorates joint pain, neutrophil infiltration and gait impairment in model mice. We confirmed CXCR2 expression in human dorsal root ganglion neurons and CXCL5 level upregulation in serum from male patients with gouty arthritis. Our study demonstrates CXCL5-neuronal CXCR2-TRPA1 axis contributes to gouty arthritis pain, neutrophil influx and inflammation that expands our knowledge of immunomodulation capability of nociceptive sensory neurons.

2024 Apr 17 - Sci Transl Med
Editor's Pick

Nociceptor spontaneous activity is responsible for fragmenting non-rapid eye movement sleep in mouse models of neuropathic pain.

Authors: Alexandre C, Miracca G, Holanda VD, Sharma A, Kourbanova K, Ferreira A, Bicca MA, Zeng X, Nassar VA, Lee S, Kaur S, Sarma SV, Sacré P, Scammell TE, Woolf CJ, Latremoliere A
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Spontaneous pain, a major complaint of patients with neuropathic pain, has eluded study because there is no reliable marker in either preclinical models or clinical studies. Here, we performed a comprehensive electroencephalogram/electromyogram analysis of sleep in several mouse models of chronic pain: neuropathic (spared nerve injury and chronic constriction injury), inflammatory (Freund’s complete adjuvant and carrageenan, plantar incision) and chemical pain (capsaicin). We find that peripheral axonal injury drives fragmentation of sleep by increasing brief arousals from non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREMS) without changing total sleep amount. In contrast to neuropathic pain, inflammatory or chemical pain did not increase brief arousals. NREMS fragmentation was reduced by the analgesics gabapentin and carbamazepine, and it resolved when pain sensitivity returned to normal in a transient neuropathic pain model (sciatic nerve crush). Genetic silencing of peripheral sensory neurons or ablation of CGRP neurons in the parabrachial nucleus prevented sleep fragmentation, whereas pharmacological blockade of skin sensory fibers was ineffective, indicating that the neural activity driving the arousals originates ectopically in primary nociceptor neurons and is relayed through the lateral parabrachial nucleus. These findings identify NREMS fragmentation by brief arousals as an effective proxy to measure spontaneous neuropathic pain in mice.

2024 Apr 16 - Adv Sci (Weinh)
Editor's Pick

Sortilin-Mediated Inhibition of TREK1/2 Channels in Primary Sensory Neurons Promotes Prediabetic Neuropathic Pain.

Authors: Sun W, Yang F, Wang Y, Yang Y, Du R, Wang XL, Luo ZX, Wu JJ, Chen J
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Neuropathic pain can occur during the prediabetic stage, even in the absence of hyperglycemia. The presence of prediabetic neuropathic pain (PDNP) poses challenges to the management of individuals with prediabetes. However, the mechanisms underlying this pain remain unclear. This study aims to investigate the underlying mechanism and identify potential therapeutic targets of PDNP. A prediabetic animal model induced by a high-energy diet exhibits both mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia. Furthermore, hyperexcitability and decreased potassium currents are observed in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons of these rats. TREK1 and TREK2 channels, which belong to the two-pore-domain K channel (K) family and play an important role in controlling cellular excitability, are downregulated in DRG neurons. Moreover, this alteration is modulated by Sortilin, a molecular partner that modulates the expression of TREK1. The overexpression of Sortilin negatively affects the expression of TREK1 and TREK2, leading to increased neuronal excitability in the DRG and enhanced peripheral pain sensitivity in rats. Moreover, the downregulation of Sortilin or activation of TREK1 and TREK2 channels by genetic or pharmacological approaches can alleviate PDNP. Therefore, targeting the Sortilin-mediated TREK1/2 pathway may provide a therapeutic approach for ameliorating PDNP.

2024 May - Lancet Neurol
Editor's Pick

Complex regional pain syndrome: advances in epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment.

Authors: Ferraro MC, O'Connell NE, Sommer C, Goebel A, Bultitude JH, Cashin AG, Moseley GL, McAuley JH
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Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a rare pain disorder that usually occurs in a limb after trauma. The features of this disorder include severe pain and sensory, autonomic, motor, and trophic abnormalities. Research from the past decade has offered new insights into CRPS epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment. Early identification of individuals at high risk of CRPS is improving, with several risk factors established and some others identified in prospective studies during the past 5 years. Better understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of CRPS has led to its classification as a chronic primary pain disorder, and subtypes of CRPS have been updated. Procedures for diagnosis have also been clarified. Although effective treatment of CRPS remains a challenge, evidence-based integrated management approaches provide new opportunities to improve patient care. Further advances in diagnosis and treatment of CRPS will require coordinated, international multicentre initiatives.

2024 Apr 10 - Sci Transl Med
Editor's Pick

A mouse model of chronic primary pain that integrates clinically relevant genetic vulnerability, stress, and minor injury.

Authors: Wang Y, Kim SH, Klein ME, Chen J, Gu E, Smith S, Bortsov A, Slade GD, Zhang X, Nackley AG
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Chronic primary pain conditions (CPPCs) affect over 100 million Americans, predominantly women. They remain ineffectively treated, in large part because of a lack of valid animal models with translational relevance. Here, we characterized a CPPC mouse model that integrated clinically relevant genetic (catechol-O-methyltransferase; COMT knockdown) and environmental (stress and injury) factors. Compared with wild-type mice, mice undergoing repeated swim stress and molar extraction surgery intervention exhibited pronounced multisite body pain and depressive-like behavior lasting >3 months. mice undergoing the intervention also exhibited enhanced activity of primary afferent nociceptors innervating hindpaw and low back sites and increased plasma concentrations of norepinephrine and pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6) and IL-17A. The pain and depressive-like behavior were of greater magnitude and longer duration (≥12 months) in females versus males. Furthermore, increases in anxiety-like behavior and IL-6 were female-specific. The effect of COMT genotype × stress interactions on pain, IL-6, and IL-17A was validated in a cohort of 549 patients with CPPCs, demonstrating clinical relevance. Last, we assessed the predictive validity of the model for analgesic screening and found that it successfully predicted the lack of efficacy of minocycline and the CB2 agonist GW842166X, which were effective in spared nerve injury and complete Freund’s adjuvant models, respectively, but failed in clinical trials. Yet, pain in the CPPC model was alleviated by the beta-3 adrenergic antagonist SR59230A. Thus, the CPPC mouse model reliably recapitulates clinically and biologically relevant features of CPPCs and may be implemented to test underlying mechanisms and find new therapeutics.

2024 Apr 06 - Cell Rep
Editor's Pick

Parabrachial Calca neurons drive nociplasticity.

Authors: Condon LF, Yu Y, Park S, Cao F, Pauli JL, Nelson TS, Palmiter RD
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Pain that persists beyond the time required for tissue healing and pain that arises in the absence of tissue injury, collectively referred to as nociplastic pain, are poorly understood phenomena mediated by plasticity within the central nervous system. The parabrachial nucleus (PBN) is a hub that relays aversive sensory information and appears to play a role in nociplasticity. Here, by preventing PBN Calca neurons from releasing neurotransmitters, we demonstrate that activation of Calca neurons is necessary for the manifestation and maintenance of chronic pain. Additionally, by directly stimulating Calca neurons, we demonstrate that Calca neuron activity is sufficient to drive nociplasticity. Aversive stimuli of multiple sensory modalities, such as exposure to nitroglycerin, cisplatin, or lithium chloride, can drive nociplasticity in a Calca-neuron-dependent manner. Aversive events drive nociplasticity in Calca neurons in the form of increased activity and excitability; however, neuroplasticity also appears to occur in downstream circuitry.

2024 Apr 05 - Brain
Editor's Pick

Tiam1-mediated maladaptive plasticity underlying morphine tolerance and hyperalgesia.

Authors: Yao C, Fang X, Ru Q, Li W, Li J, Mehsein Z, Tolias KF, Li L
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Opioid pain medications, such as morphine, remain the mainstay for treating severe and chronic pain. Prolonged morphine use, however, triggers analgesic tolerance and hyperalgesia (OIH), which can last for a long period after morphine withdrawal. How morphine induces these detrimental side effects remains unclear. Here, we show that morphine tolerance and OIH are mediated by Tiam1-coordinated synaptic structural and functional plasticity in the spinal nociceptive network. Tiam1 is a Rac1 GTPase guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) that promotes excitatory synaptogenesis by modulating actin cytoskeletal dynamics. We found that prolonged morphine treatment activated Tiam1 in the spinal dorsal horn and Tiam1 ablation from spinal neurons eliminated morphine antinociceptive tolerance and OIH. At the same time, the pharmacological blockade of Tiam1-Rac1 signaling prevented the development and reserved the established tolerance and OIH. Prolonged morphine treatment increased dendritic spine density and synaptic NMDA receptor (NMDAR) activity in spinal dorsal horn neurons, both of which required Tiam1. Furthermore, co-administration of the Tiam1 signaling inhibitor NSC23766 was sufficient to abrogate morphine tolerance in chronic pain management. These findings identify Tiam1-mediated maladaptive plasticity in the spinal nociceptive network as an underlying cause for the development and maintenance of morphine tolerance and OIH and provide a promising therapeutic target to reduce tolerance and prolong morphine use in chronic pain management.

2024 Apr 01 - Brain Behav Immun
Editor's Pick

TNFR1/p38αMAPK signaling in Nex + supraspinal neurons regulates estrogen-dependent chronic neuropathic pain.

Authors: Swanson KA, Nguyen KL, Gupta S, Ricard J, Bethea JR
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Upregulation of soluble tumor necrosis factor (sTNF) cytokine signaling through TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1) and subsequent neuronal hyperexcitability are observed in both animal models and human chronic neuropathic pain (CNP). Previously, we have shown that estrogen modulates sTNF/TNFR1 signaling in CNP, which may contribute to female prevalence of CNP. The estrogen-dependent role of TNFR1-mediated supraspinal neuronal circuitry in CNP remains unknown. In this study, we interrogated the intersect between supraspinal TNFR1 mediated neuronal signaling and sex specificity by selectively removing TNFR1 in Nex + neurons in adult mice (NexCre::TNFR1). We determined that mechanical hypersensitivity induced by chronic constriction injury (CCI) decreases over time in males, but not in females. Subsequently, we investigated two downstream pathways, p38MAPK and NF-κB, important in TNFR1 signaling and injury response. We detected p38MAPK and NF-κB activation in male cortical tissue; however, p38MAPK phosphorylation was reduced in NexCre::TNFR1 males. We observed a similar recovery from acute pain in male mice following CCI when p38αMAPK was knocked out of supraspinal Nex + neurons (NexCre::p38αMAPK), while chronic pain developed in female mice. To explore the intersection between estrogen and inflammation in CNP we used a combination therapy of an estrogen receptor β (ER β) inhibitor with a sTNF/TNFR1 or general p38MAPK inhibitor. We determined both combination therapies lends therapeutic relief to females following CCI comparable to the response evaluated in male mice. These data suggest that TNFR1/p38αMAPK signaling in Nex + neurons in CNP is male-specific and lack of therapeutic efficacy following sTNF inhibition in females is due to ER β interference. These studies highlight sex-specific differences in pathways important to pain chronification and elucidate potential therapeutic strategies that would be effective in both sexes.

2024 Apr 04 - Nat Commun
Editor's Pick

Distinct local and global functions of mouse Aβ low-threshold mechanoreceptors in mechanical nociception.

Authors: Gautam M, Yamada A, Yamada AI, Wu Q, Kridsada K, Ling J, Yu H, Dong P, Ma M, Gu J, Luo W
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The roles of Aβ low-threshold mechanoreceptors (LTMRs) in transmitting mechanical hyperalgesia and in alleviating chronic pain have been of great interest but remain contentious. Here we utilized intersectional genetic tools, optogenetics, and high-speed imaging to specifically examine functions of Split labeled mouse Aβ-LTMRs in this regard. Genetic ablation of Split-Aβ-LTMRs increased mechanical nociception but not thermosensation in both acute and chronic inflammatory pain conditions, indicating a modality-specific role in gating mechanical nociception. Local optogenetic activation of Split-Aβ-LTMRs triggered nociception after tissue inflammation, whereas their broad activation at the dorsal column still alleviated mechanical hypersensitivity of chronic inflammation. Taking all data into consideration, we propose a model, in which Aβ-LTMRs play distinctive local and global roles in transmitting or alleviating mechanical hyperalgesia of chronic pain, respectively. Our model suggests a strategy of global activation plus local inhibition of Aβ-LTMRs for treating mechanical hyperalgesia.

2024 Mar 30 - Brain
Editor's Pick

Skin keratinocyte-derived SIRT1 and BDNF modulate mechanical allodynia in mouse models of diabetic neuropathy.

Authors: O'Brien J, Niehaus P, Chang K, Remark J, Barrett J, Dasgupta A, Adenegan M, Salimian M, Kevas Y, Chandrasekaran K, Kristian T, Chellappan R, Rubin S, Kiemen A, Lu CP, Russell JW, Ho CY
Read Abstract

Diabetic neuropathy is a debilitating disorder characterized by spontaneous and mechanical allodynia. The role of skin mechanoreceptors in the development of mechanical allodynia is unclear. We discovered that mice with diabetic neuropathy had decreased sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) deacetylase activity in foot skin, leading to reduced expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and subsequent loss of innervation in Meissner corpuscles, a mechanoreceptor expressing the BDNF receptor TrkB. When SIRT1 was depleted from skin, the mechanical allodynia worsened in diabetic neuropathy mice, likely due to retrograde degeneration of the Meissner-corpuscle innervating Aβ axons and aberrant formation of Meissner corpuscles which may have increased the mechanosensitivity. The same phenomenon was also noted in skin-keratinocyte specific BDNF knockout mice. Furthermore, overexpression of SIRT1 in skin induced Meissner corpuscle reinnervation and regeneration, resulting in significant improvement of diabetic mechanical allodynia. Overall, the findings suggested that skin-derived SIRT1 and BDNF function in the same pathway in skin sensory apparatus regeneration and highlighted the potential of developing topical SIRT1-activating compounds as a novel treatment for diabetic mechanical allodynia.

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