I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Sep 2023 - 8 Sep 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, In Vitro Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development

Cancer Pain, Orofacial/Head Pain

2023 Sep 06



HPV+ head and neck cancer-derived small extracellular vesicles communicate with TRPV1+ neurons to mediate cancer pain.


Inyang KE, Evans CM, Heussner M, Petroff M, Reimers M, Vermeer PD, Tykocki N, Folger JK, Laumet G


Severe pain is often experienced by patients with head and neck cancer and is associated with a poor prognosis. Despite its frequency and severity, current treatments fail to adequately control cancer-associated pain because of our lack of mechanistic understanding. Although recent works have shed some light of the biology underlying pain in HPV-negative oral cancers, the mechanisms mediating pain in HPV+ cancers remain unknown. Cancer-derived small extracellular vesicles (cancer-sEVs) are well positioned to function as mediators of communication between cancer cells and neurons. Inhibition of cancer-sEV release attenuated pain in tumor-bearing mice. Injection of purified cancer-sEVs is sufficient to induce pain hypersensitivity in naive mice that is prevented by QX-314 treatment and in Trpv1-/- mice. Cancer-sEVs triggered calcium influx in nociceptors, and inhibition or ablation of nociceptors protects against cancer pain. Interrogation of published sequencing data of human sensory neurons exposed to human cancer-sEVs suggested a stimulation of protein translation in neurons. Induction of translation by cancer-sEVs was validated in our mouse model, and its inhibition alleviated cancer pain in mice. In summary, our work reveals that HPV+ head and neck squamous cell carcinoma-derived sEVs alter TRPV1+ neurons by promoting nascent translation to mediate cancer pain and identified several promising therapeutic targets to interfere with this pathway.