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Papers of the Week

Papers: 27 Aug 2022 - 2 Sep 2022

2022 Aug 26

Brain Behav Immun

Differential roles of NMDAR subunits 2A and 2B in mediating peripheral and central sensitization contributing to orofacial neuropathic pain.


Zhang Y-Y, Liu F, Fang Z-H, Li Y-L, Liao H-L, Song Q-X, Zhou C, Shen J-F
Brain Behav Immun. 2022 Aug 26.
PMID: 36038077.


The spinal N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR), particularly their subtypes NR2A and NR2B, plays pivotal roles in neuropathic and inflammatory pain. However, the roles of NR2A and NR2B in orofacial pain and the exact molecular and cellular mechanisms mediating nervous system sensitization are still poorly understood. Here, we exhaustively assessed the regulatory effect of NMDAR in mediating peripheral and central sensitization in orofacial neuropathic pain. Von-Frey filament tests showed that the inferior alveolar nerve (IANX) induced ectopic allodynia behavior in the whisker pad of mice. Interestingly, mechanical allodynia was reversed in mice lacking NR2A and NR2B. IANX also promoted the production of peripheral sensitization-related molecules, such as interleukin (IL)-1β, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and chemokine upregulation (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2), and decreased the inward potassium channel (Kir) 4.1 on glial cells in the trigeminal ganglion, but NR2A conditional knockout (CKO) mice prevented these alterations. In contrast, NR2B CKO only blocked the changes in Kir4.1, IL-1β, and TNF-α and further promoted the production of CCL2. Central sensitization-related c-fos, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), and ionized calcium-binding adaptor molecule 1 (Iba-1) were promoted and Kir4.1 was reduced in the spinal trigeminal caudate nucleus by IANX. Differential actions of NR2A and NR2B in mediating central sensitization were also observed. Silencing of NR2B was effective in reducing c-fos, GFAP, and Iba-1 but did not affect Kir4.1. In contrast, NR2A CKO only altered Iba-1 and Kir4.1 and further increased c-fos and GFAP. Gain-of-function and loss-of-function approaches provided insight into the differential roles of NR2A and NR2B in mediating peripheral and central nociceptive sensitization induced by IANX, which may be a fundamental basis for advancing knowledge of the neural mechanisms' reaction to nerve injury.