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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 May 2020 - 22 May 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 May 10

Eur J Pharmacol

Selective inhibition of peripheral cathepsin S reverses tactile allodynia following peripheral nerve injury in mouse.


Eckert WA, Wiener JJM, Cai H, Ameriks MK, Zhu J, Ngo K, Nguyen S, Fung-Leung W-P, Thurmond RL, Grice C, Edwards JP, Chaplan SR, Karlsson L, Sun S
Eur J Pharmacol. 2020 May 10:173171.
PMID: 32437743.


Cathepsin S (CatS) is a cysteine protease found in lysosomes of hematopoietic and microglial cells and in secreted form in the extracellular space. While CatS has been shown to contribute significantly to neuropathic pain, the precise mechanisms remain unclear. In this report, we describe JNJ-39641160, a novel non-covalent, potent, selective and orally-available CatS inhibitor that is peripherally-restricted (non-CNS penetrant) and may represent an innovative class of immunosuppressive and analgesic compounds and tools useful toward investigating peripheral mechanisms of CatS in neuropathic pain. In C57BL/6 mice, JNJ-39641160 dose-dependently blocked the proteolysis of the invariant chain; and inhibited both T-cell activation and antibody production to a vaccine antigen. In the spared nerve injury (SNI) model of chronic neuropathic pain, in which T-cell activation has previously been demonstrated to be a prerequisite for the development of pain hypersensitivity, JNJ-39641160 fully reversed tactile allodynia in wild type mice but was completely ineffective in the same model in CatS knockout mice (which exhibited a delayed onset in allodynia). By contrast, in the acute mild thermal injury (MTI) model, JNJ-39641160 only weakly attenuated allodynia at the highest dose tested. These findings support the hypothesis that blockade of peripheral CatS alone is sufficient to fully reverse allodynia following peripheral nerve injury and suggest that the mechanism of action likely involves interruption of T-cell activation and peripheral cytokine release. In addition, they provide important insights toward the development of selective CatS inhibitors for the treatment of neuropathic pain in humans.