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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Sep 2023 - 29 Sep 2023

Basic Science, Psychology

Animal Studies, Genetics, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Neuropathic Pain, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Sep 22

ACS Chem Neurosci


Resilience to Pain-Related Depression in σ Receptor Knockout Mice Is Associated with the Reversal of Pain-Induced Brain Changes in Affect-Related Genes.


de la Puente B, Zamanillo D, Romero L, Carceller A, Vela JM, Merlos M, Portillo-Salido E


Mice lacking the σ receptor chaperone (σR) are resilient to depressive-like behaviors secondary to neuropathic pain. Examining the resilience’s brain mechanisms could help develop conceptually novel therapeutic strategies. We explored the diminished motivation for a natural reinforcer (white chocolate) in the partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSNL) model in wild-type (WT) and σR mice. In the same mice, we performed a comprehensive reverse transcription quantitative PCR (qPCR) analysis across ten brain regions of seven genes implicated in pain regulation and associated affective disorders, such as anxiety and depression. PSNL induced anhedonic-like behavior in WT but not in σR mice. In WT mice, PSNL up-regulated dopamine transporter (DAT) and its rate-limiting enzyme, tyrosine hydroxylase (Th), in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and periaqueductal gray (PAG) as well as the serotonin transporters (SERT) and its rate-limiting enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (Tph2) in VTA. In addition, μ-opioid receptor (MOR) and σR were up-regulated in PAG, and MOR was also elevated in the somatosensory cortex (SS) but down-regulated in the striatum (STR). Finally, increased BDNF was found in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and hypothalamus (HPT). Sham surgery also produced PSNL-like expression changes in VTA, HPT, and STR. Genetic deletion of the σR in mice submitted to PSNL or sham surgery prevented changes in the expression of most of these genes. σR is critically involved in the supraspinal gene expression changes produced by PSNL and sham surgery. The changes in gene expression observed in WT mice may be related to pain-related depression, and the absence of these changes observed in σR mice may be related to resilience.