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Papers of the Week

Papers: 22 Jun 2024 - 28 Jun 2024

2024 Jun 18





Dysfunction of Small-Conductance Ca-Activated Potassium (SK) Channels Drives Amygdala Hyperexcitability and Neuropathic Pain Behaviors: Involvement of Epigenetic Mechanisms.


Yakhnitsa V, Thompson J, Ponomareva O, Ji G, Kiritoshi T, Mahimainathan L, Molehin D, Pruitt K, Neugebauer V


Neuroplasticity in the amygdala and its central nucleus (CeA) is linked to pain modulation and pain behaviors, but cellular mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we addressed the role of small-conductance Ca-activated potassium (SK) channels in pain-related amygdala plasticity. The facilitatory effects of the intra-CeA application of an SK channel blocker (apamin) on the pain behaviors of control rats were lost in a neuropathic pain model, whereas an SK channel activator (NS309) inhibited pain behaviors in neuropathic rats but not in sham controls, suggesting the loss of the inhibitory behavioral effects of amygdala SK channels. Brain slice electrophysiology found hyperexcitability of CeA neurons in the neuropathic pain condition due to the loss of SK channel-mediated medium afterhyperpolarization (mAHP), which was accompanied by decreased SK2 channel protein and mRNA expression, consistent with a pretranscriptional mechanisms. The underlying mechanisms involved the epigenetic silencing of the SK2 gene due to the increased DNA methylation of the CpG island of the SK2 promoter region and the change in methylated CpG sites in the CeA in neuropathic pain. This study identified the epigenetic dysregulation of SK channels in the amygdala (CeA) as a novel mechanism of neuropathic pain-related plasticity and behavior that could be targeted to control abnormally enhanced amygdala activity and chronic neuropathic pain.