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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Jun 2023 - 23 Jun 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Genetics, Neurobiology, Sex Differences

Musculoskeletal Pain

2023 Jun 09



Sex specific role of RNA-binding protein, AUF1, on prolonged hypersensitivity after repetitive ischemia with reperfusion injury.


Quijas MM, Queme LF, Weyler AA, Butterfield A, Joshi DP, Mitxelena-Balerdi I, Jankowski MP


Repetitive ischemia with reperfusion (I/R) injury is a common cause of myalgia. I/R injuries occur in many conditions that differentially affect males and females including complex regional pain syndrome and fibromyalgia. Our preclinical studies have indicated that primary afferent sensitization and behavioral hypersensitivity due to I/R may be due to sex specific gene expression in the DRGs and distinct upregulation of growth factors and cytokines in the affected muscles. In order to determine how these unique gene expression programs may be established in a sex dependent manner in a model that more closely mimics clinical scenarios, we utilized a newly developed prolonged ischemic myalgia model in mice whereby animals experience repeated I/R injuries to the forelimb and compared behavioral results to unbiased and targeted screening strategies in male and female DRGs. Several distinct proteins were found to be differentially expressed in male and female DRGs, including AU-rich element RNA binding protein (AUF1), which is known to regulate gene expression. Nerve specific siRNA-mediated knockdown of AUF1 inhibited prolonged hypersensitivity in females only, while overexpression of AUF1 in male DRG neurons increased some pain-like responses. Further, AUF1 knockdown was able to specifically inhibit repeated I/R induced gene expression in females but not males. Data suggests that RNA binding proteins like AUF1 may underlie the sex specific effects on DRG gene expression that modulate behavioral hypersensitivity after repeated I/R injury. This study may aid in finding distinct receptor differences related to the evolution of acute to chronic ischemic muscle pain development between sexes.