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Papers of the Week

Papers: 4 Jan 2020 - 10 Jan 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Jul

Brain Behav Immun


The LFA-1 antagonist BIRT377 reverses neuropathic pain in prenatal alcohol-exposed female rats via actions on peripheral and central neuroimmune function in discrete pain-relevant tissue regions.


Noor S, Sanchez JJ, Sun MS, Pervin Z, Sanchez JE, Havard MA, Epler LT, Nysus MV, Norenberg JP, Wagner CR, Davies S, Jennifer L W, Savage DD, Jantzie LL, Mellios N, Milligan ED
Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Jul; 87:339-358.
PMID: 31918004.


Previous reports show that moderate prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) poses a risk factor for developing neuropathic pain following adult-onset peripheral nerve injury in male rats. Recently, evidence suggests that immune-related mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain in females are different compared to males despite that both sexes develop neuropathy of similar magnitude and duration following chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve. Data suggest that the actions of peripheral T cells play a greater role in mediating neuropathy in females. The goal of the current study is to identify specificity of immune cell and cytokine changes between PAE and non-PAE neuropathic females by utilizing a well-characterized rodent model of sciatic nerve damage, in an effort to unmask unique signatures of immune-related factors underlying the risk of neuropathy from PAE. Cytokines typically associated with myeloid cell actions such as interleukin (IL)-1β, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), IL-6, IL-4 and IL-10 as well as the neutrophil chemoattractant CXCL1, are examined. In addition, transcription factors and cytokines associated with various differentiated T cell subtypes are examined (anti-inflammatory FOXP3, proinflammatory IL-17A, IL-21, ROR-γt, interferon (IFN)-γ and T-bet). Lymphocyte function associated antigen 1 (LFA-1) is an adhesion molecule expressed on peripheral immune cells including T cells and regulates T cell activation and extravasation into inflamed tissue regions. A potential therapeutic approach was explored with the goal of controlling proinflammatory responses in neuroanatomical regions critical for CCI-induced allodynia by blocking LFA-1 actions using BIRT377. The data show profound development of hindpaw allodynia in adult non-PAE control females following standard CCI, but not following minor CCI, while minor CCI generated allodynia in PAE females. The data also show substantial increases in T cell-associated proinflammatory cytokine mRNA and proteins, along with evidence of augmented myeloid/glial activation (mRNA) and induction of myeloid/glial-related proinflammatory cytokines, CCL2, IL-1β and TNF in discrete regions along the pain pathway (damaged sciatic nerve, dorsal root ganglia; DRG, and spinal cord). Interestingly, the characteristic anti-inflammatory IL-10 protein response to nerve damage is blunted in neuropathic PAE females. Moreover, T cell profiles are predominantly proinflammatory in neuropathic Sac and PAE females, augmented levels of Th17-specific proinflammatory cytokines IL-17A and IL-21, as well as the Th1-specific factor, T-bet, are observed. Similarly, the expression of RORγt, a critical transcription factor for Th17 cells, is detected in the spinal cord of neuropathic females. Blocking peripheral LFA-1 actions with intravenous (i.v.) BIRT377 reverses allodynia in Sac and PAE rats, dampens myeloid (IL-1β, TNF, CXCL1)- and T cell-associated proinflammatory factors (IL-17A and RORγt) and spinal glial activation. Moreover, i.v. BIRT377 treatment reverses the blunted IL-10 response to CCI observed only in neuropathic PAE rats and elevates FOXP3 in pain-reversed Sac rats. Unexpectedly, intrathecal BIRT377 treatment is unable to alter allodynia in either Sac or PAE neuropathic females. Together, these data provide evidence that: 1) fully differentiated proinflammatory Th17 cells recruited at the sciatic nerve, DRGs and lumbar spinal cord may interact with the local environment to shape the immune responses underlying neuropathy in female rats, and, 2) PAE primes peripheral and spinal immune responses in adult females. PAE is a risk factor in females for developing peripheral neuropathy after minor nerve injury.