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Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Dec 2023 - 8 Dec 2023


Immunother Adv




NLRP3 inflammasome activation in sensory neurons promotes chronic inflammatory and osteoarthritis pain.


Silva Santos Ribeiro P, Willemen HLDM, Versteeg S, Martin Gil C, Eijkelkamp N


Pain is one of the most debilitating symptoms in rheumatic diseases. Pain often persists after total knee replacement in osteoarthritis, or when inflammation is minimal/absent in rheumatoid arthritis. This suggests that pain transitions to a chronic state independent of the original damage/inflammation. Mitochondrial dysfunction in the nervous system promotes chronic pain and is linked to NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Therefore, we investigated the role of mitochondrial dysfunction and NLRP3 inflammasome activation in the transition from acute to persistent inflammation-induced nociplastic pain and in persistent monoiodoacetate-induced osteoarthritis pain. Intraplantar injection of carrageenan in mice induced transient inflammatory pain that resolved within 7 days. A subsequent intraplantar PGE injection induced persistent mechanical hypersensitivity, while in naive mice it resolved within one day. Thus, this initial transient inflammation induced maladaptive nociceptor neuroplasticity, so-called hyperalgesic priming. At Day 7, when mice were primed, expression of NLRP3 inflammasome pathway components was increased, and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons displayed signs of activated NLRP3 inflammasome. Inhibition of NLRP3 inflammasome with MCC950 prevented the transition from acute to chronic pain in this hyperalgesic priming model. In mice with persistent monoiodoacetate-induced osteoarthritis pain, DRG neurons displayed signs of mitochondrial oxidative stress and NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Blocking NLRP3 inflammasome activity attenuated established osteoarthritis pain. In males, NLPR3 inhibition had longer-lasting effects than in females. Overall, these data suggest that NLRP3 inflammasome activation in sensory neurons, potentially caused by neuronal oxidative stress, promotes development of persistent inflammatory and osteoarthritis pain. Therefore, targeting NLRP3 inflammasome pathway may be a promising approach to treat chronic pain.