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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Sep 2023 - 29 Sep 2023

Basic Science

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

Inflammation/Inflammatory, Neuropathic Pain

2023 Sep 20

Eur J Pharmacol


Wnt signaling is involved in crotalphine-induced analgesia in a rat model of neuropathic pain.


Hösch NG, Martins BB, Alcantara QA, Bufalo MC, Neto BS, Chudzinki-Tavassi AM, Santa-Cecilia FV, Cury Y, Zambelli VO


The aberrant activation of Wnt/β-catenin and atypical Wnt/Ryk signaling pathways in the spinal cord is critical for the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain. Crotalphine is a structural analog to a peptide first identified in Crotalus durissus terrificus snake venom, which induces antinociception by activating kappa-opioid and CB cannabinoid receptors. Consistent with previous data, we showed that the protein levels of the canonical Wnt/β-catenin and the atypical Wnt/Ryk signaling pathways are increased in neuropathic rats. Importantly, the administration of crotalphine downregulates these protein levels, including its downstream cascades, such as TCF4 from the canonical pathway and NR2B glutamatergic receptor and Ca-dependent signals, via the Ryk receptor. The CB receptor antagonist, AM630, abolished the crotalphine-induced atypical Wnt/Ryk signaling pathway activation. However, the selective CB agonist affects both canonical and non-canonical Wnt signaling in the spinal cord. Next, we showed that crotalphine blocked hypersensitivity and significantly decreased the concentration of IL-1ɑ, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, IL-18, TNF-ɑ, MIP-1ɑ and MIP-2 induced by intrathecal injection of exogenous Wnt-3a agonist. Taken together, our findings show that crotalphine induces analgesia in a neuropathic pain model by down-regulating the canonical Wnt/β-catenin and the atypical Wnt/Ryk signaling pathways and, consequently controlling neuroinflammation. This effect is, at least in part, mediated by CB receptor activation. These results open a perspective for new approaches that can be used to target Wnt signaling in the context of chronic pain. PERSPECTIVE: Our work identified that crotalphine-induced activation of CB receptors plays a critical role in the impairment of Wnt signaling during neuropathic pain. This work suggests that drugs with opioid/cannabinoid activity may be a useful strategy to target Wnt signaling in the context of chronic pain.