I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 24 Jun 2023 - 30 Jun 2023


Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Neuropathic Pain

2023 Jun 27



Cutaneous nerve fiber and peripheral Nav1.7 assessment in a large cohort of patients with postherpetic neuralgia.


Fetell M, Sendel M, Li T, Marinelli L, Vollert J, Ruggerio E, Houk G, Dockum M, Albrecht PJ, Rice FL, Baron R


The mechanisms of pain in postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) are still unclear, with some studies showing loss of cutaneous sensory nerve fibers that seemed to correlate with pain level. We report results of skin biopsies and correlations with baseline pain scores, mechanical hyperalgesia, and the Neuropathic Pain Symptom Inventory (NPSI) in 294 patients who participated in a clinical trial of TV-45070, a topical semiselective sodium 1.7 channel (Nav1.7) blocker. Intraepidermal nerve fibers and subepidermal Nav1.7 immunolabeled fibers were quantified in skin punch biopsies from the area of maximal PHN pain, as well as from the contralateral, homologous (mirror image) region. Across the entire study population, a 20% reduction in nerve fibers on the PHN-affected side compared with that in the contralateral side was noted; however, the reduction was much higher in older individuals, approaching 40% in those aged 70 years or older. There was a decrease in contralateral fiber counts as well, also noted in prior biopsy studies, the mechanism of which is not fully clear. Nav1.7-positive immunolabeling was present in approximately one-third of subepidermal nerve fibers and did not differ on the PHN-affected vs contralateral sides. Using cluster analysis, 2 groups could be identified, with the first cluster showing higher baseline pain, higher NPSI scores for squeezing and cold-induced pain, higher nerve fiber density, and higher Nav1.7 expression. While Nav1.7 varies from patient to patient, it does not seem to be a key pathophysiological driver of PHN pain. Individual differences in Nav1.7 expression, however, may determine the intensity and sensory aspects of pain.