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Papers of the Week

Papers: 6 Jan 2024 - 12 Jan 2024

2023 Dec 22

Int J Mol Sci




N-Acetylcysteine Antagonizes NGF Activation of TrkA through Disulfide Bridge Interaction, an Effect Which May Contribute to Its Analgesic Activity.


Govoni S, Fantucci P, Marchesi N, Vertemara J, Pascale A, Allegri M, Calvillo L, Vanoli E


N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a mucolytic agent and an antidote to acetaminophen intoxication, has been studied in experimental conditions and trials exploring its analgesic activity based on its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The purpose of this study is to investigate additional mechanisms, namely, the inhibition of nerve growth factor (NGF) and the activation of the Tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA) receptor, which is responsible for nociception. In silico studies were conducted to evaluate dithiothreitol and NAC’s interaction with TrkA. We also measured the autophosphorylation of TrkA in SH-SY5Y cells via ELISA to assess NAC’s in vitro activity against NGF-induced TrkA activation. The in silico and in vitro tests show that NAC interferes with NGF-induced TrkA activation. In particular, NAC breaks the disulfide-bound Cys 300-345 of TrkA, perturbing the NGF-TrkA interaction and producing a rearrangement of the binding site, inducing a consequent loss of their molecular recognition and spatial reorganization, which are necessary for the induction of the autophosphorylation process. The latter was inhibited by 40% using 20 mM NAC. These findings suggest that NAC could have a role as a TrkA antagonist, an action that may contribute to the activity and use of NAC in various pain states (acute, chronic, nociplastic) sustained by NGF hyperactivity and/or accompanied by spinal cord sensitization.