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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 May 2020 - 29 May 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 May 18

Brain Behav Immun

Central IRAK-4 kinase inhibition for the treatment of pain following nerve injury in rats.


Pletinckx K, Krings D, Welbers A, Rider DA, Dunkern TR
Brain Behav Immun. 2020 May 18.
PMID: 32439472.


There is ample evidence for the role of the immune system in developing chronic pain following peripheral nerve injury. Especially Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and their associated signaling components and pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β, induced after injury, are involved in nociceptive processes and believed to contribute to the manifestation of chronic neuropathic pain states. Whereas the inhibition of the kinase function of IRAK-4, a central kinase downstream of TLRs and IL-1 receptors (IL-1Rs), seems efficacious in various chronic inflammatory and autoimmune models, it's role in regulating chronic neuropathic pain remained elusive to date. Here, we examined whether pharmacological inhibition of IRAK-4 kinase activity using PF-06650833 and BMS-986147, two clinical-stage kinase inhibitors, is effective for controlling persistent pain following nerve injury. Both inhibitors potently inhibited TLR-triggered cytokine release in human peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) as well as human and rat whole blood cultures. BMS-986147 showing favorable pharmacokinetic (PK) properties, significantly inhibited R848-triggered plasma TNF levels in a rat in vivo cytokine release model after single oral dosing. However, BMS-986147 dose dependently reversed cold allodynia in a rat chronic constriction injury (CCI) model following intrathecal administration only, supporting the notion that central neuro-immune modulation is beneficial for treating chronic neuropathic pain. Although both inhibitors were efficacious in inhibiting IL-1β- or TLR-triggered cytokine release in rat dorsal root ganglion cultures, only partial efficacy was reached in IL-1β-stimulated human glial cultures indicating that inhibiting IRAK-4́s kinase function might be partially dispensable for human IL-1β driven neuroinflammation. Overall, our data demonstrate that IRAK-4 inhibitors could provide therapeutic benefit in chronic pain following nerve injury, and the central driver for efficacy in the neuropathic pain model as well as potential side effects of centrally available IRAK-4 inhibitors warrant further investigation to develop effective analgesia for patients in high unmet medical need.