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Papers of the Week

Papers: 5 Aug 2023 - 11 Aug 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology


2023 Aug 10

Acta Pharmacol Sin


PACAP/PAC1-R activation contributes to hyperalgesia in 6-OHDA-induced Parkinson’s disease model rats via promoting excitatory synaptic transmission of spinal dorsal horn neurons.


Dong LG, An MQ, Gu HY, Zhang LG, Zhang JB, Li CJ, Mao CJ, Wang F, Liu CF


Pain is a common annoying non-motor symptom in Parkinson’s disease (PD) that causes distress to patients. Treatment for PD pain remains a big challenge, as its underlying mechanisms are elusive. Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) and its receptor PAC1-R play important roles in regulating a variety of pathophysiological processes. In this study, we investigated whether PACAP/PAC1-R signaling was involved in the mechanisms of PD pain. 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-induced PD model was established in rats. Behavioral tests, electrophysiological and Western blotting analysis were conducted 3 weeks later. We found that 6-OHDA rats had significantly lower mechanical paw withdrawal 50% threshold in von Frey filament test and shorter tail flick latency, while mRNA levels of Pacap and Adcyap1r1 (gene encoding PAC1-R) in the spinal dorsal horn were significantly upregulated. Whole-cell recordings from coronal spinal cord slices at L4-L6 revealed that the frequency of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs) in dorsal horn neurons was significantly increased, which was reversed by application of a PAC1-R antagonist PACAP 6-38 (250 nM). Furthermore, we demonstrated that intrathecal microinjection of PACAP 6-38 (0.125, 0.5, 2 μg) dose-dependently ameliorated the mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia in 6-OHDA rats. Inhibition of PACAP/PAC1-R signaling significantly suppressed the activation of Ca/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in spinal dorsal horn of 6-OHDA rats. Microinjection of pAAV-Adcyap1r1 into L4-L6 spinal dorsal horn alleviated hyperalgesia in 6-OHDA rats. Intrathecal microinjection of ERK antagonist PD98059 (10 μg) significantly alleviated hyperalgesia in 6-OHDA rats associated with the inhibition of sEPSCs in dorsal horn neurons. In addition, we found that serum PACAP-38 concentration was significantly increased in PD patients with pain, and positively correlated with numerical rating scale score. In conclusion, activation of PACAP/PAC1-R induces the development of PD pain and targeting PACAP/PAC1-R is an alternative strategy for treating PD pain.