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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Sep 2020 - 25 Sep 2020

Animal Studies

2020 Sep 21

Nat Biotechnol

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Epineural optogenetic activation of nociceptors initiates and amplifies inflammation.


Michoud F, Seehus C, Schönle P, Brun N, Taub D, Zhang Z, Jain A, Furfaro I, Akouissi O, Moon R, Meier P, Galan K, Doyle B, Tetreault M, Talbot S, Browne LE, Huang Q, Woolf CJ, Lacour SP
Nat Biotechnol. 2020 Sep 21.
PMID: 32958958.


Activation of nociceptor sensory neurons by noxious stimuli both triggers pain and increases capillary permeability and blood flow to produce neurogenic inflammation, but whether nociceptors also interact with the immune system remains poorly understood. Here we report a neurotechnology for selective epineural optogenetic neuromodulation of nociceptors and demonstrate that nociceptor activation drives both protective pain behavior and inflammation. The wireless optoelectronic system consists of sub-millimeter-scale light-emitting diodes embedded in a soft, circumneural sciatic nerve implant, powered and driven by a miniaturized head-mounted control unit. Photostimulation of axons in freely moving mice that express channelrhodopsin only in nociceptors resulted in behaviors characteristic of pain, reflecting orthodromic input to the spinal cord. It also led to immune reactions in the skin in the absence of inflammation and potentiation of established inflammation, a consequence of the antidromic activation of nociceptor peripheral terminals. These results reveal a link between nociceptors and immune cells, which might have implications for the treatment of inflammation.