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Papers of the Week

Papers: 28 Mar 2020 - 3 Apr 2020

Animal Studies

2020 Mar 27


The inhibition of Kir2.1 potassium channels depolarizes spinal microglial cells, reduces their proliferation, and attenuates neuropathic pain.



Spinal microglia change their phenotype and proliferate after nerve injury, contributing to neuropathic pain. For the first time, we have characterized the electrophysiological properties of microglia and the potential role of microglial potassium channels in the spared nerve injury (SNI) model of neuropathic pain. We observed a strong increase of inward currents restricted at 2 days after injury associated with hyperpolarization of the resting membrane potential (RMP) in microglial cells compared to later time-points and naive animals. We identified pharmacologically and genetically the current as being mediated by Kir2.1 ion channels whose expression at the cell membrane is increased 2 days after SNI. The inhibition of Kir2.1 with ML133 and siRNA reversed the RMP hyperpolarization and strongly reduced the currents of microglial cells 2 days after SNI. These electrophysiological changes occurred coincidentally to the peak of microglial proliferation following nerve injury. In vitro, ML133 drastically reduced the proliferation of BV2 microglial cell line after both 2 and 4 days in culture. In vivo, the intrathecal injection of ML133 significantly attenuated the proliferation of microglia and neuropathic pain behaviors after nerve injury. In summary, our data implicate Kir2.1-mediated microglial proliferation as an important therapeutic target in neuropathic pain.