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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Jun 2019 - 21 Jun 2019

Human Studies

2019 Jan-Dec

Mol Pain


Correlation of miRNA expression with intensity of neuropathic pain in man.


Tavares-Ferreira D, Lawless N, Bird E, Atkins S, Collier D, Sher E, Malki K, Lambert D, Boissonade F
Mol Pain. 2019 Jan-Dec; 15:1744806919860323.
PMID: 31218919.


Peripheral nerve injury causes changes in expression of multiple receptors and mediators that participate in pain processing. We investigated the expression of microRNAs (miRNAs) – a class of post-transcriptional regulators involved in many physiological and pathophysiological processes – and their potential role in the development or maintenance of chronic neuropathic pain following lingual nerve injury in human and rat. We profiled miRNA expression in Sprague-Dawley rat and human lingual nerve neuromas using TaqMan low-density array (TLDA) cards. Expression of miRNAs of interest was validated via specific probes and correlated with nerve injury-related behavioural change in rat (time spent drinking) and clinical pain (VAS score). Target prediction was performed using publicly available algorithms; gene enrichment and pathway analysis were conducted with MetaCore. Networks of miRNAs and putative target genes were created with Cytoscape; interaction of miRNAs and target genomes in rat and human was displayed graphically using CircosPlot. rno-miR-138 was upregulated in lingual nerve of injured rats versus sham controls. rno-miR-138 and rno-miR-667 expression correlated with behavioural change at day 3 post-injury (with negative [rno-miR-138] and positive [rno-miR-667] correlations between expression and time spent drinking). In human, hsa-miR-29a was downregulated in lingual nerve neuromas of patients with higher pain VAS scores (painful group), versus patients with lower pain VAS scores (non-painful). A statistically significant negative correlation was observed between expression of both hsa-miR-29a and hsa-miR-500a, and pain VAS score. Our results show that following lingual nerve injury there are highly significant correlations between abundance of specific miRNAs, altered behaviour and pain scores. This study provides the first demonstration of correlations between human miRNA levels and VAS scores for neuropathic pain, and suggests a potential contribution of specific miRNAs to the development of chronic pain following lingual nerve injury. Putative targets for candidate miRNAs include genes related to interleukin and chemokine receptors and potassium channels.