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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Jun 2019 - 21 Jun 2019

Animal Studies

2019 Jan-Jul

Neurobiol Pain


Temporal and sex differences in the role of BDNF/TrkB signaling in hyperalgesic priming in mice and rats.


Moy JK, Szabo-Pardi T, Tillu DV, Megat S, Pradhan G, Kume M, Asiedu MN, Burton MD, Dussor G, Price TJ
Neurobiol Pain. 2019 Jan-Jul; 5:100024.
PMID: 31194015.


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signaling through its cognate receptor, TrkB, is a well-known promoter of synaptic plasticity at nociceptive synapses in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Existing evidence suggests that BDNF/TrkB signaling in neuropathic pain is sex dependent. We tested the hypothesis that the effects of BDNF/TrkB signaling in hyperalgesic priming might also be sexually dimorphic. Using the incision postsurgical pain model in male mice, we show that BDNF sequestration with TrkB-Fc administered at the time of surgery blocks the initiation and maintenance of hyperalgesic priming. However, when BDNF signaling was blocked prior to the precipitation of hyperalgesic priming with prostaglandin E (PGE), priming was not reversed. This result is in contrast to our findings in male mice with interleukin-6 (IL6) as the priming stimulus where TrkB-Fc was effective in reversing the maintenance of hyperalgesic priming. Furthermore, in IL6-induced hyperalgesic priming, the BDNF sequestering agent, TrkB-fc, was effective in reversing the maintenance of hyperalgesic priming in male mice; however, when this experiment was conducted in female mice, we did not observe any effect of TrkB-fc. This markedly sexual dimorphic effect in mice is consistent with recent studies showing a similar effect in neuropathic pain models. We tested whether the sexual dimorphic role for BDNF was consistent across species. Importantly, we find that this sexual dimorphism does not occur in rats where TrkB-fc reverses hyperalgesic priming fully in both sexes. Finally, to determine the source of BDNF in hyperalgesic priming in mice, we used transgenic mice (  ×  mice) with BDNF eliminated from microglia. From these experiments we conclude that BDNF from microglia does not contribute to hyperalgesic priming and that the key source of BDNF for hyperalgesic priming is likely nociceptors in the dorsal root ganglion. These experiments demonstrate the importance of testing mechanistic hypotheses in both sexes in multiple species to gain insight into complex biology underlying chronic pain.