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Papers of the Week

Papers: 8 Apr 2023 - 14 Apr 2023

Basic Science, Psychology

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

Neuropathic Pain, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Apr 08

Brain Behav Immun


Editor's Pick

Intrathecal non-viral interleukin-10 gene therapy ameliorates neuropathic pain as measured by both classical static allodynia and a novel supra-spinally mediated painassay, theTwo-ArmRodentSomatosensory (TARS)task.


Clements MA, Kwilasz AJ, Litwiler ST, Sents Z, Woodall BJ, Hayashida K, Watkins LR


Intrathecal delivery of interleukin-10 (IL-10) gene therapy has been reported to be effective in suppressing pain enhancement in a variety of rodent models. However, all publications that have tested this treatment have relied upon measures of static allodynia (von Frey test) and thermal hyperalgesia (Hargreaves test). As this plasmid DNA IL-10 (pDNA-IL10) therapeutic approach is now in human clinical trials for multiple pain indications, including intrathecal delivery for human neuropathic pain, it is important to consider the recent concerns raised in the pain field that such tests reflect spinal rather than supraspinal processing of, and responsivity to, noxious stimuli. Consequently, this raises the question of whether intrathecal pDNA-IL10 can reverse established neuropathic pain when assessed by a test requiring supraspinal, rather than solely spinal, mediation of the behavioral response. The present study utilizes the rat sciatic chronic constriction injury (CCI) model of neuropathic pain to compare the expression of static allodynia with that of cognitively controlled choice behavior in a two-arm maze, adapted from Hayashida et al. (2019). This modification, termed the Two-Arm Rodent Somatosensory (TARS) task, provides rats free choice to reach a desired goal box via a short “arm” of the maze with tactile probes as flooring versus a longer “arm” of the maze with a smooth surface. Here we demonstrate that static allodynia and avoidance of the nociceptive flooring in TARS develop in parallel over time, and that both behaviors also resolve in parallel following intrathecal pDNA-IL10 gene therapy. Details for the construction and use of this new maze design are also provided. Together, this study documents both: (a) the important finding that intrathecal IL-10 gene therapy does indeed resolve neuropathic pain as measured by a supraspinally-mediated behavioral task, and (b) a new, supraspinally-mediated task that allows behavioral assessments across weeks and allows the analysis of both development and resolution of neuropathic pain by therapeutic interventions. As such, the TARS operant behavior task is an improvement over other approaches such as the mechanical conflict-avoidance system which have difficulties demonstrating development and reversal of pain behavior in a within-subject design.