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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 Feb 2020 - 7 Feb 2020


Animal Studies

2020 03 11

J Neurosci



SIRT1 decreases emotional pain vulnerability with associated CaMKIIα deacetylation in central amygdala.


Zhou C, Wu Y, Ding X, Shi N, Cai Y, Pan ZZ
J Neurosci. 2020 03 11; 40(11):2332-2342.
PMID: 32005763.


Emotional disorders are common comorbid conditions that further exacerbate the severity and chronicity of chronic pain. However, individuals show considerable vulnerability to developing chronic pain under similar pain conditions. In this study on male rat and mouse models of chronic neuropathic pain, we identify the histone deacetylase SIRT1 in central amygdala as a key epigenetic regulator that controls the development of comorbid emotional disorders underlying the individual vulnerability to chronic pain. We found that animals that were vulnerable to developing behaviors of anxiety and depression under the pain condition displayed reduced SIRT1 protein in central amygdala, but not those animals resistant to the emotional disorders. Viral overexpression of local SIRT1 reversed this vulnerability, but viral knockdown of local SIRT1 mimicked the pain effect, eliciting the pain vulnerability in pain-free animals. The SIRT1 action was associated with CaMKIIα downregulation and deacetylation of histone H3 lysine 9 at the promoter. These results suggest that, by transcriptional repression of in central amygdala, SIRT1 functions to guard against the emotional pain vulnerability under chronic pain conditions. This study indicates that SIRT1 may serve as a potential therapeutic molecule for individualized treatment of chronic pain with vulnerable emotional disorders.Chronic pain is a prevalent neurological disease with no effective treatment at present. Pain patients display considerably variable vulnerability to developing chronic pain, indicating individual-based molecular mechanisms underlying the pain vulnerability, which is hardly addressed in current preclinical research. In this study, we have identified the histone deacetylase Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) as a key regulator that controls this pain vulnerability. This study reveals that the SIRT1–CaMKIIaα pathway in central amygdala acts as an epigenetic mechanism that guards against the development of comorbid emotional disorders under chronic pain, and that its dysfunction causes increased vulnerability to developing chronic pain. These findings suggest that SIRT1 activators may be used in a novel therapeutic approach for individual-based treatment of chronic pain.