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Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Dec 2023 - 15 Dec 2023

2023 Dec 07

Brain Behav Immun


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Myostatin and CXCL11 promote nervous tissue macrophages to maintain osteoarthritis pain.


Gil CM, Raoof R, Versteeg S, Willemen HLDM, Lafeber FPJG, Mastbergen SC, Eijkelkamp N


Pain is the most debilitating symptom of knee osteoarthritis (OA) that can even persist after total knee replacement. The severity and duration of pain do not correlate well with joint tissue alterations, suggesting other mechanisms may drive pain persistence in OA. Previous work identified that macrophages accumulate in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) containing the somas of sensory neurons innervating the injured knee joint in a mouse OA model and acquire a M1-like phenotype to maintain pain. Here we aimed to unravel the mechanisms that govern DRG macrophage accumulation and programming. The accumulation of F4/80iNOS (M1-like) DRG macrophages was detectable at day 3 after mono-iodoacetate (MIA)-induced OA in the mouse. Depletion of macrophages prior to induction of OA resolved pain-like behaviors by day 7 without affecting the initial development of pain-like behaviors. Analysis of DRG transcript identified CXCL11 and myostatin. CXCL11 and myostatin were increased at 3 weeks post OA induction, with CXCL11 expression partially localized in satellite glial cells and myostatin in sensory neurons. Blocking CXCL11 or myostatin prevented the persistence of OA pain, without affecting the initiation of pain. CXCL11 neutralization reduced the number of total and F4/80iNOS DRG macrophages, whilst myostatin inhibition diminished the programming of F4/80iNOS DRG macrophages. Intrathecal injection of recombinant CXCL11 did not induce pain-associated behaviors. In contrast, intrathecal myostatin increased the number of F4/80iNOS DRG macrophages concurrent with the development of mechanical hypersensitivity that was prevented by macrophages depletion or CXCL11 blockade. Finally, myostatin inhibition during established OA, resolved pain and F4/80iNOS macrophage accumulation in the DRG. In conclusion, DRG macrophages maintain OA pain, but are not required for the induction of OA pain. Myostatin is a key ligand in neuro-immune communication that drives the persistence of pain in OA through nervous tissue macrophages and represent a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of OA pain.