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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Oct 2022 - 21 Oct 2022

Animal Studies, Human Studies

2022 Oct 18

JCI Insight

Sparcl1/Hevin drives pathological pain through spinal cord astrocyte and NMDA receptor signaling.


Chen G, Xu J, Luo H, Luo X, Singh SK, Ramirez JJ, James ML, Mathew JP, Berger M, Eroglu C, Ji R-R
JCI Insight. 2022 Oct 18.
PMID: 36256481.


Hevin/Sparcl1 is an astrocyte-secreted protein and regulates synapse formation. Here we show that astrocytic hevin signaling plays a critical role in maintaining chronic pain. Compared to wild-type mice, hevin-null mice exhibited normal mechanical and heat sensitivity but reduced inflammatory pain. Interestingly, hevin-null mice have faster recovery than wild-type mice from neuropathic pain after nerve injury. Intrathecal injection of wild-type hevin was sufficient to induce persistent mechanical allodynia in naïve mice. In hevin-null mice with nerve injury, AAV-mediated re-expression of hevin in GFAP-expressing spinal cord astrocytes could reinstate neuropathic pain. Mechanistically, hevin is crucial for spinal cord NMDA receptor (NMDAR) signaling. Hevin potentiated NMDA currents mediated by the GluN2B-containing NMDARs. Furthermore, intrathecal injection of a neutralizing antibody against hevin alleviated acute and persistent inflammatory pain, postoperative pain, and neuropathic pain. Secreted hevin was detected in mouse cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and nerve injury significantly increased CSF hevin abundance. Finally, neurosurgery caused rapid and substantial increases in SPARCL1/HEVIN levels in human CSF. Collectively, our findings support a critical role of hevin and astrocytes in the maintenance of chronic pain. Neutralizing of secreted hevin with monoclonal antibody may provide a new therapeutic strategy for treating acute and chronic pain and NMDAR-medicated neurodegeneration.