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Papers of the Week

Papers: 24 Jun 2023 - 30 Jun 2023

Basic Science, Psychology

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology


2023 Jun 15

J Psychiatr Res



PAG neuronal NMDARs activation mediated morphine-induced hyperalgesia by HMGB1-TLR4 dependent microglial inflammation.


Mo J, Lu Z, Peng J, Li XP, Lan L, Wang H, Peng Y


Morphine is one of the most effective and widely used analgesic drugs. However, chronic morphine use caused opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH). The development of OIH limits the use of morphine. The mechanisms of OIH are not fully understood. Toll-like receptor4 (TLR4) and glutamate receptors in the periaqueductal gray (PAG) are critical in OIH, however, the association between TLR4 and N-methyl-D-aspartate Receptors (NMDARs) activation in PAG remains unclear. Microglia activation, increased TLR4/p65 nuclear factor-kappa B (p65 NF-κB) and proinflammatory cytokines in microglia, and phosphorylation of NMDAR1 subunit (NR1) and NMDAR2B subunit (NR2B) in neurons were observed in PAG of OIH mice. Up-regulations of TLR4/p65 NF-κB and proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α) in BV2 cells were prevented by inhibiting and knocking down TLR4. By inhibiting myeloid differentiation factor 2 (MD2) and knocking down the High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), we found that morphine activated TLR4 by HMGB1 but not MD2. We co-cultured Neuro-2a (N2A) with BV2 microglial cell line and found that instead of directly phosphorylating NMDAR subunits, morphine increased the phosphorylation of NR1 and NR2B by inducing TLR4-mediated microglia inflammation. Knocking TLR4 out of PAG by Lentivirus-GFP-TLR4 shRNA reversed these changes and relieved OIH. Our findings suggested that the secretion of HMGB1 induced by morphine-activated TLR4 in microglia, and the proinflammatory factors released by activated microglia phosphorylated NR1 and NR2B of adjacent neurons, induced increased neuronal excitability. In conclusion, TLR4/NMDARs in PAG were involved in the development and maintenance of OIH and supported novel strategies for OIH treatment.