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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 Aug 2020 - 4 Sep 2020

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Aug 25

Pharmacol Res

Regulators of G protein signalling as pharmacological targets for the treatment of neuropathic pain.


Doyen P, Beckers P, Brook GA, Hermans E
Pharmacol Res. 2020 Aug 25:105148.
PMID: 32858121.


Neuropathic pain, a specific type of chronic pain resulting from persistent nervous tissue lesions, is a debilitating condition that affects about 7% of the population. This condition remains particularly difficult to treat because of the poor understanding of its underlying mechanisms. Drugs currently used to alleviate this chronic pain syndrome are of limited benefit due to their lack of efficacy and the elevated risk of side effects, especially after a prolonged period of treatment. Although drugs targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) also have several limitations, such as progressive loss of efficacy due to receptor desensitization or unavoidable side effects due to wide receptor distribution, the identification of several molecular partners that contribute to the fine-tuning of receptor activity has raised new opportunities for the development of alternative therapeutic approaches. Regulators of G protein signalling (RGS) act intracellularly by influencing the coupling process and activity of G proteins, and are amongst the best-characterized physiological modulators of GPCR. Changes in RGS expression have been documented in a range of models of neuropathic pain, or after prolonged treatment with diverse analgesics, and could participate in altered pain processing as well as impaired physiological or pharmacological control of nociceptive signals. The present review summarizes the experimental data that implicates RGS in the development of pain with focus on the pathological mechanisms of neuropathic pain, including the impact of neuropathic lesions on RGS expression and, reciprocally, the influence of modifying RGS on GPCRs involved in the modulation of nociception as well as on the outcome of pain. In this context, we address the question of the relevance of RGS as promising targets in the treatment of neuropathic pain.