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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Jul 2021 - 16 Jul 2021

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2021 Jul 07

J Neurosci



α2δ-1 Upregulation in Primary Sensory Neurons Promotes NMDA Receptor-Mediated Glutamatergic Input in Resiniferatoxin-Induced Neuropathy.


Zhang 张广芬 G-F, Chen 陈少瑞 S-R, Jin 金道忠 D, Huang 黄玉莹 Y, Chen 陈红 H, Pan 潘惠麟 H-L
J Neurosci. 2021 Jul 07; 41(27):5963-5978.
PMID: 34252037.


Systemic treatment with resiniferatoxin (RTX) induces small-fiber sensory neuropathy by damaging TRPV1-expressing primary sensory neurons and causes distinct thermal sensory impairment and tactile allodynia, which resemble the unique clinical features of postherpetic neuralgia. However, the synaptic plasticity associated with RTX-induced tactile allodynia remains unknown. In this study, we found that RTX-induced neuropathy is associated with α2δ-1 upregulation in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and increased physical interaction between α2δ-1 and GluN1 in the spinal cord synaptosomes. RNAscope hybridization showed that RTX treatment significantly increased α2δ-1 expression in DRG neurons labeled with calcitonin gene-related peptide, isolectin B4, NF200, and tyrosine hydroxylase. Electrophysiological recordings revealed that RTX treatment augmented the frequency of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) and the amplitude of evoked EPSCs in spinal dorsal horn neurons, and these effects were reversed by blocking NMDA receptors with AP-5. Inhibiting α2δ-1 with gabapentin, genetically ablating α2δ-1, or targeting α2δ-1-bound NMDA receptors with α2δ-1Tat peptide largely normalized the baseline frequency of mEPSCs and the amplitude of evoked EPSCs potentiated by RTX treatment. Furthermore, systemic treatment with memantine or gabapentin and intrathecal injection of AP-5 or Tat-fused α2δ-1 C terminus peptide reversed allodynia in RTX-treated rats and mice. In addition, RTX-induced tactile allodynia was attenuated in α2δ-1 knock-out mice and in mice in which GluN1 was conditionally knocked out in DRG neurons. Collectively, our findings indicate that α2δ-1-bound NMDA receptors at presynaptic terminals of sprouting myelinated afferent nerves contribute to RTX-induced potentiation of nociceptive input to the spinal cord and tactile allodynia. Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), associated with shingles, is a distinct form of neuropathic pain commonly seen in elderly and immunocompromised patients. The synaptic plasticity underlying touch-induced pain hypersensitivity in PHN remains unclear. Using a nonviral animal model of PHN, we found that glutamatergic input from primary sensory nerves to the spinal cord is increased via tonic activation of glutamate NMDA receptors. Also, we showed that α2δ-1 (encoded by ), originally considered a calcium channel subunit, serves as an auxiliary protein that promotes activation of presynaptic NMDA receptors and pain hypersensitivity. This new information advances our understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying PHN and suggests new strategies for treating this painful condition.