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Papers of the Week

Papers: 27 May 2023 - 2 Jun 2023

Basic Science

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



Mol Pain



Spinal microRNA-134-5p targets glutamate receptor ionotropic kainate 3 to modulate opioid induced hyperalgesia in mice.


Wang Z, Yao Y, Tao Y, Fan P, Yu Y, Xie K, Wang G


Fentanyl and its analogs are extensively used for pain relief. However, their paradoxically pronociceptive effects often lead to increased opioids consumption and risk of chronic pain. Compared to other synthetic opioids, remifentanil has been strongly linked to acute opioid hyperalgesia after exposure [remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia (RIH)]. The epigenetic regulation of microRNAs (miRNAs) on targeted mRNAs has emerged as an important pathogenesis in pain. The current research aimed at exploring the significance and contributions of miR-134-5p to the development of RIH. Both the antinociceptive and pronociceptive effects of two commonly used opioids were assessed, and miRNA expression profiles in the spinal dorsal horn (SDH) of mice acutely exposed to remifentanil and remifentanil equianalgesic dose (RED) sufentanil were screened. Next, the candidate miRNA level, cellular distribution, and function were examined by qPCR, fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and Argonaute-2 immunoprecipitation. Furthermore, bioinformatics analysis, luciferase assays, miRNA overexpression, behavioral tests, golgi staining, electron microscopy, whole-cell patch-clamp recording, and immunoblotting were employed to investigate the potential targets and mechanisms underlying RIH. Remifentanil induced significant pronociceptive effects and a distinct miRNA-profile from sufentanil when compared to saline controls. Among top 30 differentially expressed miRNAs spectrum, spinal miR-134-5p was dramatically downregulated in RIH mice but remained comparative in mice subjected to sufentanil. Moreover, Glutamate Receptor Ionotropic Kainate 3 (Grik3) was a target of miR-134-5p. The overexpression of miR-134-5p attenuated the hyperalgesic phenotype, excessive dendritic spine remodeling, excitatory synaptic structural plasticity, and Kainate receptor-mediated miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) in SDH resulting from remifentanil exposure. Besides, intrathecal injection of selective KA-R antagonist was able to reverse the GRIK3 membrane trafficking and relieved RIH. The miR-134-5p contributes to remifentanil-induced pronociceptive features via directly targeting Grik3 to modulate dendritic spine morphology and synaptic plasticity in spinal neurons.