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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 May 2024 - 31 May 2024

2024 May 29

Cell Rep




Pain hypersensitivity is dependent on autophagy protein Beclin 1 in males but not females.


Tam TH, Zhang W, Tu Y, Hicks JL, Farcas S, Kim D, Salter MW


Chronic pain is associated with alterations in fundamental cellular processes. Here, we investigate whether Beclin 1, a protein essential for initiating the cellular process of autophagy, is involved in pain processing and is targetable for pain relief. We find that monoallelic deletion of Becn1 increases inflammation-induced mechanical hypersensitivity in male mice. However, in females, loss of Becn1 does not affect inflammation-induced mechanical hypersensitivity. In males, intrathecal delivery of a Beclin 1 activator, tat-beclin 1, reverses inflammation- and nerve injury-induced mechanical hypersensitivity and prevents mechanical hypersensitivity induced by brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a mediator of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Pain signaling pathways converge on the enhancement of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) in spinal dorsal horn neurons. The loss of Becn1 upregulates synaptic NMDAR-mediated currents in dorsal horn neurons from males but not females. We conclude that inhibition of Beclin 1 in the dorsal horn is critical in mediating inflammatory and neuropathic pain signaling pathways in males.