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Papers of the Week

Papers: 5 Aug 2023 - 11 Aug 2023

Basic Science, Psychology

Animal Studies, Genetics, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Neuropathic Pain, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Aug 07

Signal Transduct Target Ther




Editor's Pick

Extracellular RNAs-TLR3 signaling contributes to cognitive impairment after chronic neuropathic pain in mice.


Zhang X, Gao R, Zhang C, Teng Y, Chen H, Li Q, Liu C, Wu J, Wei L, Deng L, Wu L, Ye-Lehmann S, Mao X, Liu J, Zhu T, Chen C


Chronic pain is often associated with cognitive decline, which could influence the quality of the patient’s life. Recent studies have suggested that Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) is crucial for memory and learning. Nonetheless, the contribution of TLR3 to the pathogenesis of cognitive decline after chronic pain remains unclear. The level of TLR3 in hippocampal neurons increased in the chronic constriction injury (CCI) group than in the sham group in this study. Importantly, compared to the wild-type (WT) mice, TLR3 knockout (KO) mice and TLR3-specific neuronal knockdown mice both displayed improved cognitive function, reduced levels of inflammatory cytokines and neuronal apoptosis and attenuated injury to hippocampal neuroplasticity. Notably, extracellular RNAs (exRNAs), specifically double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs), were increased in the sciatic nerve, serum, and hippocampus after CCI. The co-localization of dsRNA with TLR3 was also increased in hippocampal neurons. And the administration of poly (I:C), a dsRNA analog, elevated the levels of dsRNAs and TLR3 in the hippocampus, exacerbating hippocampus-dependent memory. In additon, the dsRNA/TLR3 inhibitor improved cognitive function after CCI. Together, our findings suggested that exRNAs, particularly dsRNAs, that were present in the condition of chronic neuropathic pain, activated TLR3, initiated downstream inflammatory and apoptotic signaling, caused damage to synaptic plasticity, and contributed to the etiology of cognitive impairment after chronic neuropathic pain.