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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 Apr 2022 - 22 Apr 2022

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 Apr 18

J Neurochem

Hedgehog signaling plays a crucial role in hyperalgesia associated with neuropathic pain in mice.


Okuda H, Ishikawa T, Hori K, Kwankaew N, Ozaki N
J Neurochem. 2022 Apr 18.
PMID: 35437761.


Neuropathic pain is a debilitating chronic syndrome of the nervous system caused by nerve injury. In Drosophila, the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway is related to increased pain sensitivity (hyperalgesia) but does not affect the baseline nociceptive threshold. In general, the contribution of the Hh signaling pathway to neuropathic pain in vertebrates is a highly debated issue. Alternatively, we investigated the potential role of Hh signaling in mechanical allodynia using a mouse model of neuropathic pain. Seven days after spinal nerve-transection (SNT) surgery, microglial activation increased in the ipsilateral spinal dorsal horn compared with that in the sham group; however, 21 days after surgery, microglial activation decreased. Contrastingly, astrocyte activation in the spinal cord did not differ between the groups. On day 21 of postsurgery, the SNT group showed marked upregulation of sonic hedgehog expression in peripheral glial cells but not in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Intrathecal administration of the Hh signaling inhibitor vismodegib attenuated the mechanical allodynia observed on day 21 postsurgery. Conversely, intrathecal treatment with the Hh signaling activator smoothened agonist in naive mice induced mechanical allodynia, which was abolished by the ATP transporter inhibitor clodronate. Moreover, inhibition of Hh signaling by pretreatment with vismodegib significantly reduced ATP secretion and the frequency/number of spontaneous elevations of intracellular calcium ion levels in cultured DRG cells. Thus, the Hh signaling pathway appears to modulate the neural activity of DRG neurons via ATP release, and it plays an important role in sustaining mechanical allodynia and hypersensitivity in a mouse model of neuropathic pain.