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Papers of the Week

Papers: 20 Apr 2019 - 26 Apr 2019

Animal Studies

2019 Jul

Brain Res Bull


Nicotine Inhibits Rapamycin-induced Pain through Activating mTORC1/S6K/IRS-1-related Feedback Inhibition Loop.


Li S, Guan S Y, Wang Y, Cheng L, Yang Q, Tian Z, Zhao M, Wang X, Feng B
Brain Res Bull. 2019 Jul; 149:75-85.
PMID: 31005665.


Mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) inhibitors increase the incidence of pain in patients, and this finding has been replicated in animal models. However, reports on possible analgesics for this condition are scant. Accumulating evidence finds that nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are involved in mediating pain. However, whether nicotine, a full agonist of nAChRs, alleviates mTORC1 inhibition-induced pain and its underlying mechanisms remain unknown. In this study, pain was induced in naïve male C57BL/6 J mice by intraperitoneally injecting rapamycin acutely or repeatedly. Subsequently, pain thresholds, including mechanical and thermal pain, were measured. The involving signaling pathway was tested using western blot analysis and immunofluorescent assay. Changes in neuronal excitability caused by different treatments were also analyzed using whole-cell recording. Microinjection into the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) was used to test the role of nAChRs containing the α4β2 or α7 subtype in this brain region in pain modulation. Our results showed that nicotine significantly reduced hyperalgesia in mice that received acute or repeated rapamycin injections, and reversed the effects of rapamycin on the phosphorylation of S6K, 4E-BP1, insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) at Ser636/639, AKT at Ser473, and ERK at Thr202/Tyr204. Whole-cell recording results showed that nicotine reduced the firing rates of pyramidal neurons in the ACC, and a pharmacological blockade of nAChRs containing the α4β2 or α7 subtype in ACC inhibited the antinociceptive effects of nicotine in mice with rapamycin-induced pain. Our findings indicate that analgesics targeting nAChRs can be developed to help patients with rapamycin-induced pain.