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Papers of the Week

Papers: 27 May 2023 - 2 Jun 2023

Basic Science, Psychology

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development


2023 May 25

Eur J Pharmacol


Spinal alarmin HMGB1 and the activation of TLR4 lead to chronic stress-induced nociceptive hypersensitivity in rodents.


Rodríguez-Palma EJ, Velazquez-Lagunas I, Salinas-Abarca AB, Vidal-Cantú GC, Escoto-Rosales MJ, Castañeda-Corral G, Fernández-Guasti A, Granados-Soto V


Chronic stress affects millions of people around the world, and it can trigger different behavioral disorders like nociceptive hypersensitivity and anxiety, among others. However, the mechanisms underlaying these chronic stress-induced behavioral disorders have not been yet elucidated. This study was designed to understand the role of high-mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) and toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in chronic stress-induced nociceptive hypersensitivity. Chronic restraint stress induced bilateral tactile allodynia, anxiety-like behaviors, phosphorylation of ERK and p38MAPK and activation of spinal microglia. Moreover, chronic stress enhanced HMGB1 and TLR4 protein expression at the dorsal root ganglion, but not at the spinal cord. Intrathecal injection of HMGB1 or TLR4 antagonists reduced tactile allodynia and anxiety-like behaviors induced by chronic stress. Additionally, deletion of TLR4 diminished the establishment of chronic stress-induced tactile allodynia in male and female mice. Lastly, the antiallodynic effect of HMGB1 and TLR4 antagonists were similar in stressed male and female rats and mice. Our results suggest that chronic restraint stress induces nociceptive hypersensitivity, anxiety-like behaviors, and up-regulation of spinal HMGB1 and TLR4 expression. Blockade of HMGB1 and TLR4 reverses chronic restraint stress-induced nociceptive hypersensitivity and anxiety-like behaviors and restores altered HMGB1 and TLR4 expression. The antiallodynic effects of HMGB1 and TLR4 blockers in this model are sex independent. TLR4 could be a potential pharmacological target for the treatment of the nociceptive hypersensitivity associated with widespread chronic pain.