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Papers of the Week

Papers: 27 Jan 2024 - 2 Feb 2024

2024 Jan 23



Disruption of mitochondrial pyruvate oxidation in dorsal root ganglia drives persistent nociceptive sensitization and causes pervasive transcriptomic alterations.


Haque MM, Kuppusamy P, Melemedjian OK


Metabolism is inextricably linked to every aspect of cellular function. In addition to energy production and biosynthesis, metabolism plays a crucial role in regulating signal transduction and gene expression. Altered metabolic states have been shown to maintain aberrant signaling and transcription, contributing to diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegeneration. Metabolic gene polymorphisms and defects are also associated with chronic pain conditions, as are increased levels of nerve growth factor (NGF). However, the mechanisms by which NGF may modulate sensory neuron metabolism remain unclear. This study demonstrated that intraplantar NGF injection reprograms sensory neuron metabolism. Nerve growth factor suppressed mitochondrial pyruvate oxidation and enhanced lactate extrusion, requiring 24 hours to increase lactate dehydrogenase A and pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1 (PDHK1) expression. Inhibiting these metabolic enzymes reversed NGF-mediated effects. Remarkably, directly disrupting mitochondrial pyruvate oxidation induced severe, persistent allodynia, implicating this metabolic dysfunction in chronic pain. Nanopore long-read sequencing of poly(A) mRNA uncovered extensive transcriptomic changes upon metabolic disruption, including altered gene expression, splicing, and poly(A) tail lengths. By linking metabolic disturbance of dorsal root ganglia to transcriptome reprogramming, this study enhances our understanding of the mechanisms underlying persistent nociceptive sensitization. These findings imply that impaired mitochondrial pyruvate oxidation may drive chronic pain, possibly by impacting transcriptomic regulation. Exploring these metabolite-driven mechanisms further might reveal novel therapeutic targets for intractable pain.