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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 Jul 2023 - 4 Aug 2023

2023 Jul 31



Chemogenetic activation of oxytocin neurons improves pain in a reserpine-induced fibromyalgia rat model.


Ikeda N, Kawasaki M, Baba K, Nishimura H, Fujitani T, Suzuki H, Matsuura T, Ohnishi H, Shimizu M, Sanada K, Nishimura K, Yoshimura M, Maruyama T, Conway-Campbell BL, Onaka T, Teranishi H, Hanada R, Ueta Y, Sakai A


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a syndrome characterized by chronic pain with depression as a frequent comorbidity. However, efficient management of the pain and depressive symptoms of FM is lacking. Given that endogenous oxytocin (OXT) contributes to the regulation of pain and depressive disorders, herein, we investigated the role of OXT in an experimental reserpine-induced FM model. In FM model, OXT-monomeric red fluorescent protein 1 (OXT-mRFP1) transgenic rats exhibited increased depressive behavior and sensitivity in a mechanical nociceptive test, suggesting reduced pain tolerance. Additionally, the development of the FM-like phenotype in OXT-mRFP1 FM model rats was accompanied by a significant reduction in OXT mRNA expression in the magnocellular neurons of the paraventricular nucleus. OXT-mRFP1 FM model rats also had significantly fewer tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH)- and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-immunoreactive (ir) neurons as well as reduced serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the dorsal raphe and locus coeruleus. To investigate the effects of stimulating the endogenous OXT pathway, rats expressing OXT-human muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (hM3Dq)-mCherry designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) were also assessed in the FM model. Treatment of these rats with clozapine-N-oxide (CNO), an hM3Dq-activating drug, significantly improved characteristic FM model-induced pathophysiological pain, but did not alter depressive-like behavior. The chemogenetically induced effects were reversed by pre-treatment with an OXT receptor antagonist, confirming the specificity of action via the OXT pathway. These results indicate that endogenous OXT may have analgesic effects in FM, and could be a potential target for effective pain management strategies for this disorder.