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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Jul 2023 - 21 Jul 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology


PLoS One




Deficient AMPK activity contributes to hyperexcitability in peripheral nociceptive sensory neurons and thermal hyperalgesia in lupus mice.


Viatchenko-Karpinski V, Kong L, Weng HR


Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) often suffer from chronic pain. Little is known about the peripheral mechanisms underlying the genesis of chronic pain induced by SLE. The aim of this study was to investigate whether and how membrane properties in nociceptive neurons in the dorsal root ganglions (DRGs) are altered by SLE. We found elevation of resting membrane potentials, smaller capacitances, lower action potential thresholds and rheobases in nociceptive neurons in the DRGs from MRL/lpr mice (an SLE mouse model) with thermal hyperalgesia. DRGs from MRL/lpr mice had increased protein expressions in TNFα, IL-1β, and phosphorylated ERK but suppressed AMPK activity, and no changes in sodium channel 1.7 protein expression. We showed that intraplantar injection of Compound C (an AMPK inhibitor) induced thermal hyperalgesia in normal mice while intraplantar injection of AICAR (an AMPK activator) reduced thermal hyperalgesia in MRL/Lpr mice. Upon inhibition of AMPK membrane properties in nociceptive neurons from normal control mice could be rapidly switched to those found in SLE mice with thermal hyperalgesia. Our study indicates that increased excitability in peripheral nociceptive sensory neurons contributes to the genesis of thermal hyperalgesia in mice with SLE, and AMPK regulates membrane properties in nociceptive sensory neurons as well as thermal hyperalgesia in mice with SLE. Our study provides a basis for targeting signaling pathways regulating membrane properties of peripheral nociceptive neurons as a means for conquering chronic pain caused by SLE.