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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Jun 2023 - 23 Jun 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Inflammation/Inflammatory, Neuropathic Pain, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Jun 16



Cingulate cGMP-dependent protein kinase I facilitates chronic pain and pain-related anxiety and depression.


Wang TZ, Wang F, Tian ZC, Li ZZ, Liu WN, Ding H, Xie TT, Cao ZX, Li HT, Sun ZC, Xie RG, Wu SX, Pan ZX, Luo C


Patients with chronic pain often experience exaggerated pain response and aversive emotion, such as anxiety and depression. Central plasticity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is assumed to be a critical interface for pain perception and emotion, which has been reported to involve activation of NMDA receptors. Numerous studies have documented the key significance of cGMP-dependent protein kinase I (PKG-I) as a crucial downstream target for the NMDA receptor-NO-cGMP signaling cascade in regulating neuronal plasticity and pain hypersensitivity in specific regions of pain pathway, ie, dorsal root ganglion or spinal dorsal horn. Despite this, whether and how PKG-I in the ACC contributes to cingulate plasticity and comorbidity of chronic pain and aversive emotion has remained elusive. Here, we uncovered a crucial role of cingulate PKG-I in chronic pain and comorbid anxiety and depression. Chronic pain caused by tissue inflammation or nerve injury led to upregulation of PKG-I expression at both mRNA and protein levels in the ACC. Knockdown of ACC-PKG-I relieved pain hypersensitivity as well as pain-associated anxiety and depression. Further mechanistic analysis revealed that PKG-I might act to phosphorylate TRPC3 and TRPC6, leading to enhancement of calcium influx and neuronal hyperexcitability as well as synaptic potentiation, which results in the exaggerated pain response and comorbid anxiety and depression. We believe this study sheds new light on the functional capability of ACC-PKG-I in modulating chronic pain as well as pain-associated anxiety and depression. Hence, cingulate PKG-I may represent a new therapeutic target against chronic pain and pain-related anxiety and depression.