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Papers of the Week

2023 May

Neural Regen Res



Targeting the nitric oxide/cGMP signaling pathway to treat chronic pain.


Li D-Y, Gao S-J, Sun J, Zhang L-Q, Wu J-Y, Song F-H, Liu D-Q, Zhou Y-Q, Mei W
Neural Regen Res. 2023 May; 18(5):996-1003.
PMID: 36254980.


Nitric oxide (NO)/cyclic guanosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cGMP) signaling has been shown to act as a mediator involved in pain transmission and processing. In this review, we summarize and discuss the mechanisms of the NO/cGMP signaling pathway involved in chronic pain, including neuropathic pain, bone cancer pain, inflammatory pain, and morphine tolerance. The main process in the NO/cGMP signaling pathway in cells involves NO activating soluble guanylate cyclase, which leads to subsequent production of cGMP. cGMP then activates cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG), resulting in the activation of multiple targets such as the opening of ATP-sensitive K channels. The activation of NO/cGMP signaling in the spinal cord evidently induces upregulation of downstream molecules, as well as reactive astrogliosis and microglial polarization which participate in the process of chronic pain. In dorsal root ganglion neurons, natriuretic peptide binds to particulate guanylyl cyclase, generating and further activating the cGMP/PKG pathway, and it also contributes to the development of chronic pain. Upregulation of multiple receptors is involved in activation of the NO/cGMP signaling pathway in various pain models. Notably the NO/cGMP signaling pathway induces expression of downstream effectors, exerting both algesic and analgesic effects in neuropathic pain and inflammatory pain. These findings suggest that activation of NO/cGMP signaling plays a constituent role in the development of chronic pain, and this signaling pathway with dual effects is an interesting and promising target for chronic pain therapy.