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Papers of the Week

Papers: 24 Jun 2023 - 30 Jun 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Genetics, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Inflammation/Inflammatory, Neuropathic Pain

2023 Jun 27



Editor's Pick

Chemotherapy for pain: reversing inflammatory and neuropathic pain with the anticancer agent mithramycin A.


Xu Z, Lee MC, Sheehan K, Fujii K, Rabl K, Rader G, Varney S, Sharma M, Eilers H, Kober K, Miaskowski C, Levine JD, Schumacher MA


The persistence of inflammatory and neuropathic pain is poorly understood. We investigated a novel therapeutic paradigm by targeting gene networks that sustain or reverse persistent pain states. Our prior observations found that Sp1-like transcription factors drive the expression of TRPV1, a pain receptor, that is blocked in vitro by mithramycin A (MTM), an inhibitor of Sp1-like factors. Here, we investigate the ability of MTM to reverse in vivo models of inflammatory and chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) pain and explore MTM’s underlying mechanisms. Mithramycin reversed inflammatory heat hyperalgesia induced by complete Freund adjuvant and cisplatin-induced heat and mechanical hypersensitivity. In addition, MTM reversed both short-term and long-term (1 month) oxaliplatin-induced mechanical and cold hypersensitivity, without the rescue of intraepidermal nerve fiber loss. Mithramycin reversed oxaliplatin-induced cold hypersensitivity and oxaliplatin-induced TRPM8 overexpression in dorsal root ganglion (DRG). Evidence across multiple transcriptomic profiling approaches suggest that MTM reverses inflammatory and neuropathic pain through broad transcriptional and alternative splicing regulatory actions. Mithramycin-dependent changes in gene expression following oxaliplatin treatment were largely opposite to and rarely overlapped with changes in gene expression induced by oxaliplatin alone. Notably, RNAseq analysis revealed MTM rescue of oxaliplatin-induced dysregulation of mitochondrial electron transport chain genes that correlated with in vivo reversal of excess reactive oxygen species in DRG neurons. This finding suggests that the mechanism(s) driving persistent pain states such as CIPN are not fixed but are sustained by ongoing modifiable transcription-dependent processes.