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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 Mar 2023 - 31 Mar 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development

Neuropathic Pain

2023 Mar 29

Sci Adv




Editor's Pick

ATP-releasing SWELL1 channel in spinal microglia contributes to neuropathic pain.


Chu J, Yang J, Zhou Y, Chen J, Chen KH, Zhang C, Cheng HY, Koylass N, Liu JO, Guan Y, Qiu Z


Following peripheral nerve injury, extracellular adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP)-mediated purinergic signaling is crucial for spinal cord microglia activation and neuropathic pain. However, the mechanisms of ATP release remain poorly understood. Here, we show that volume-regulated anion channel (VRAC) is an ATP-releasing channel and is activated by inflammatory mediator sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) in microglia. Mice with microglia-specific deletion of Swell1 (also known as Lrrc8a), a VRAC essential subunit, had reduced peripheral nerve injury-induced increase in extracellular ATP in spinal cord. The mutant mice also exhibited decreased spinal microgliosis, dorsal horn neuronal hyperactivity, and both evoked and spontaneous neuropathic pain-like behaviors. We further performed high-throughput screens and identified an FDA-approved drug dicumarol as a novel and potent VRAC inhibitor. Intrathecal administration of dicumarol alleviated nerve injury-induced mechanical allodynia in mice. Our findings suggest that ATP-releasing VRAC in microglia is a key spinal cord determinant of neuropathic pain and a potential therapeutic target for this debilitating disease.