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Papers of the Week

Papers: 5 Aug 2023 - 11 Aug 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Sex Differences


2023 Aug 04

Brain Behav Immun


Editor's Pick

Sex differences in peripheral immune cell activation: Implications for pain and pain resolution.


Friedman TN, La Caprara O, Zhang C, Lee K, May J, Faig CA, Baldwin T, Plemel JR, Taylor AMW, Kerr BJ


Decades of research into chronic pain has deepened our understanding of the cellular mechanisms behind this process. However, a failure to consider the biological variable of sex has limited the application of these breakthroughs into clinical application. In the present study, we investigate fundamental differences in chronic pain between male and female mice resulting from inflammatory activation of the innate immune system. We provide evidence that female mice are more sensitive to the effects of macrophages. Injecting small volumes of media conditioned by either unstimulated macrophages or macrophages stimulated by the inflammatory molecule TNFα lead to increased pain sensitivity only in females. Interestingly, we find that TNFα conditioned media leads to a more rapid resolution of mechanical hypersensitivity and altered immune cell recruitment to sites of injury. Furthermore, male and female macrophages exhibit differential polarization characteristics and motility after TNFα stimulation, as well as a different profile of cytokine secretions. Finally, we find that the X-linked gene Tlr7 is critical in the facilitating the adaptive resolution of pain in models of acute and chronic inflammation in both sexes. Altogether, these findings suggest that although the cellular mechanisms of pain resolution may differ between the sexes, the study of these differences may yield more targeted approaches with clinical applications.