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Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Mar 2024 - 5 April 2024

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Genetics, In Vitro Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development

Inflammation/Inflammatory, Neuropathic Pain

2024 Mar 27

Eur J Pharmacol


Sodium tanshinone IIA sulfonate suppresses microglia polarization and neuroinflammation possibly via regulating miR-125b-5p/STAT3 axis to ameliorate neuropathic pain.


Zeng J, Gao WW, Yang H, Wang YN, Mei Y, Liu TT, Wang M, Tang L, Ma DC, Li W


The spinal cord microglia play a pivotal role in neuroinflammation and neuropathic pain (NP). Sodium tanshinone IIA sulfonate (STS), a derivative of tanshinone IIA, has anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperalgesic effects. However, its underlying mechanism in NP remains unclear. This study aimed to investigate the effect of STS and elucidate possible mechanisms in a rat model of spared nerve injury. In vivo experiments, STS and AG490 were administered intraperitoneally once daily for 14 consecutive days after surgery. The results showed that the expression of miR-125b-5p in the spinal dorsal horn was substantially reduced, whereas signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling was increased. After treatment with STS, the mechanical thresholds, expression of miR-125b-5p, and microglial M2 marker such as Arg-1 in the spinal cord horn increased significantly, whereas multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines and apoptosis were significantly reduced. Moreover, STAT3 pathway-related proteins and expression of the microglial M1 marker, CD68, were appreciably inhibited. In vitro, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was used to induce an inflammatory response in BV-2 microglial cells. STS pretreatment inhibited LPS-stimulated pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion, reduced STAT3 pathway related-proteins and apoptosis, increased miR-125b-5p and proopiomelanocortin expression, and enhanced microglia transformation from M1 to M2 phenotype in BV-2 cells. These effects were reversed after the inhibition of miR-125b-5p expression in BV-2 cells. A dual-luciferase reporter assay confirmed that STAT3 binds to miR-125b-5p. In summary, these results suggest that STS exerts anti-hyperalgesic and anti-neuroinflammatory effects in rats with NP possibly via the miR-125b-5p/STAT3 axis.