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Papers: 6 Jan 2024 - 12 Jan 2024

2024 Jan 06

Brain Behav Immun


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Injured sensory neurons-derived galectin-3 contributes to neuropathic pain via programming microglia in the spinal dorsal horn.


Shan L, Xu K, Ji L, Zeng Q, Liu Y, Wu Y, Chen Y, Li Y, Hu Q, Wu J, Xu Y, Luo Y, Li C, Wu C, Jiang C, Wang Z


Emerging studies have demonstrated spinal microglia play a critical role in central sensitization and contribute to chronic pain. Although several mediators that contribute to microglia activation have been identified, the mechanism of microglia activation and its functionally diversified mechanisms in pathological pain are still unclear. Here we report that injured sensory neurons-derived Galectin-3 (Gal3) activates and reprograms microglia in the spinal dorsal horn (SDH) and contributes to neuropathic pain. Firstly, Gal3 is predominantly expressed in the isolectin B4 (IB4)-positive non-peptidergic sensory neurons and significantly up-regulated in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and primary afferent terminals in SDH in the partial sciatic nerve ligation (pSNL)-induced neuropathic pain model. Gal3 knockout (Gal3 KO) mice showed a significant decrease in mechanical allodynia and Gal3 inhibitor TD-139 produced a significant anti-allodynia effect in the pSNL model. Furthermore, pSNL-induced microgliosis was compromised in Gal3 KO mice. Additionally, intrathecal injection of Gal3 produces remarkable mechanical allodynia by direct activation of microglia, which have enhanced inflammatory responses with TNF-α and IL-1β up-regulation. Thirdly, using single-nuclear RNA sequencing (snRNA-seq), we identified that Gal3 targets microglia and induces reprogramming of microglia, which may contribute to neuropathic pain establishment. Finally, Gal3 enhances excitatory synaptic transmission in excitatory neurons in the SDH via microglia activation. Our findings reveal that injured sensory neurons-derived Gal3 programs microglia in the SDH and contribute to neuropathic pain.