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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Dec 2023 - 29 Dec 2023

2023 Dec 20

Eur J Pharmacol


Novel hippocampal genes involved in enhanced susceptibility to chronic pain-induced behavioral emotionality.


Garman A, Ash A, Kokkinos E, Nerland D, Winter L, Langreck C, Forgette M, Girgenti MJ, Banasr M, Duric V


Altered mood and psychiatric disorders are commonly associated with chronic pain conditions; however, brain mechanisms linking pain and comorbid clinical depression are still largely unknown. In this study, we aimed to identify whether key genes/cellular mechanisms underlie susceptibility/resiliency to development of depressive-like behaviors during chronic pain state. Genome-wide RNA-seq analysis was used to examine the transcriptomic profile of the hippocampus, a limbic brain region that regulates mood and stress responses, from male rats exposed to chronic inflammatory pain. Pain-exposed animals were separated into either ‘resilient’ or ‘susceptible’ to development of enhanced behavioral emotionality based on behavioral testing. RNA-seq bioinformatic analysis, followed by validation using qPCR, revealed dysregulation of hippocampal genes involved in neuroinflammation, cell cycle/neurogenesis and blood-brain barrier integrity. Specifically, ADAM Metallopeptidase Domain 8 (Adam8) and Aurora Kinase B (Aurkb), genes with functional roles in activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome and microgliosis, respectively, were significantly upregulated in the hippocampus of ‘susceptible’ animals expressing increased behavioral emotionality. In addition, genes associated with blood-brain barrier integrity, such as the Claudin 4 (Cldn4), a tight junction protein and a known marker of astrocyte activation, were also significantly dysregulated between ‘resilient’ or ‘susceptible’ pain groups. Furthermore, differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were further characterized in rodents stress models to determine whether their hippocampal dysregulation is driven by common stress responses vs. affective pain processing. Altogether these results continue to strengthen the connection between dysregulation of hippocampal genes involved in neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative processes with increased behavioral emotionality often expressed in chronic pain state.