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Papers of the Week

Papers: 8 Apr 2023 - 14 Apr 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development

Neuropathic Pain

2023 Apr 05

J Control Release


In situ delivery of a curcumin-loaded dynamic hydrogel for the treatment of chronic peripheral neuropathy.


Kong Y, Shi W, Zheng L, Zhang D, Jiang X, Liu B, Xue W, Kuss M, Li Y, Sorgen PL, Duan B


Patients with peripheral nerve injuries would highly likely suffer from chronic neuropathic pain even after surgical intervention. The primary reasons for this involve sustained neuroinflammatory and dysfunctional changes in the nervous system after the nerve injury. We previously reported an injectable boronic ester-based hydrogel with inherent antioxidative and nerve protective properties. Herein, we first explored the anti-neuroinflammatory effects of Curcumin on primary sensory neurons and activated macrophages in vitro. Next, we incorporated thiolated Curcumin-Pluronic F-127 micelles (Cur-M) into our boronic ester-based hydrogel to develop an injectable hydrogel that serves as sustained curcumin release system (Gel-Cur-M). By orthotopically injecting the Gel-Cur-M to sciatic nerves of mice with chronic constriction injuries, we found that the bioactive components could remain on the nerves for at least 21 days. In addition, the Gel-Cur-M exhibited superior functions compared to Gel and Cur-M alone, which includes ameliorating hyperalgesia while simultaneously improving locomotor and muscular functions after the nerve injury. This could stem from in situ anti-inflammation, antioxidation, and nerve protection. Furthermore, the Gel-Cur-M also showed extended beneficial effects for preventing the overexpression of TRPV1 as well as microglial activation in the lumbar dorsal root ganglion and spinal cord, respectively, which also contributed to its analgesic effects. The underlying mechanism may involve the suppression of CC chemokine ligand-2 and colony-stimulating factor-1 in the injured sensory neurons. Overall, this study suggests that orthotopic injection of the Gel-Cur-M is a promising therapeutic strategy that especially benefits patients with peripheral neuropathy who require surgical interventions.