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Papers of the Week

Papers: 13 Feb 2021 - 19 Feb 2021

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2021 Feb 12

J Neurosci

Interleukin-4 induces the release of opioid peptides from M1 macrophages in pathological pain.


Labuz D, Celik MÖ, Seitz V, Machelska H
J Neurosci. 2021 Feb 12.
PMID: 33593854.


Interleukin-4 (IL-4) is an anti-inflammatory cytokine, which can be protective in inflammatory and neurological disorders, and can alleviate pain. Classically, IL-4 diminishes pain by blocking the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Here, we uncovered that IL-4 induces acute antinociception by IL-4 receptor α (IL-4Rα)-dependent release of opioid peptides from M1 macrophages at injured nerves. As a model of pathological pain we used a chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve in male mice. A single application of IL-4 at the injured nerves (14 days following CCI) attenuated mechanical hypersensitivity evaluated by von Frey filaments, which was reversed by co-injected antibody to IL-4Rα, antibodies to opioid peptides such as Met-enkephalin (ENK), β-endorphin and dynorphin A 1-17, and selective antagonists of δ-, µ- and κ-opioid receptors. Injured nerves were predominately infiltrated by pro-inflammatory M1 macrophages and IL-4 did not change their numbers or the phenotype, assessed by flow cytometry and qRT-PCR, respectively. Macrophages isolated from damaged nerves by immunomagnetic separation and stimulated with IL-4 dose-dependently secreted all three opioid peptides measured by immunoassays. The IL-4-induced release of ENK was diminished by IL-4Rα antibody, intracellular Ca chelator, and inhibitors of protein kinase A (PKA), phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), and ryanodine receptors. Together, we identified a new opioid mechanism underlying the IL-4-induced antinociception that involves PKA-, PI3K-, ryanodine receptor-, and intracellular Ca-mediated release from M1 macrophages of opioid peptides, which activate peripheral opioid receptors in injured tissue.Interleukin-4 (IL-4) is an anti-inflammatory cytokine, which can ameliorate pain. The IL-4-mediated effects are considered to mostly result from the inhibition of the production of pro-inflammatory mediators (e.g., IL-1β, tumor necrosis factor, prostaglandin E2). Here, we found that IL-4 injected at the injured nerves attenuates pain by releasing opioid peptides from the infiltrating macrophages in mice. The opioids were secreted by IL-4 in the intracellular Ca-dependent manner and activated local peripheral opioid receptors. These actions represent a novel mode of IL-4 action, since its releasing properties have not been so far reported. Importantly, our findings suggest that the IL-4-opioid system should be targeted in the peripheral damaged tissue, since this can be devoid of central and systemic side effects.