- cGMP-dependent signaling pathways in spinal pain processing (2009)
- Oral presentation from 4th International Conference of cGMP Generators, Effectors and Therapeutic Implications ; Regensburg, Germany. 19–21 June 2009 Background: An exaggerated pain sensitivity is the dominant feature of inflammatory and neuropathic pain both in the clinical setting and in experimental animal models. It manifests as pain in response to normally innocuous stimuli (allodynia), increased response to noxious stimuli (hyperalgesia) or spontaneous pain, and can persist long after the initial injury is resolved. Research over the last decades has revealed that several signaling pathways in the spinal cord essentially contribute to the pain sensitization. To test the contribution of cGMP produced by NO-sensitive guanylyl cyclase (NO-GC) to pain sensitization, we investigated the localization of NO-GC in the spinal cord and in dorsal root ganglia, and we characterized the nociceptive behavior of mice deficient in NO-GC (GC-KO mice). Results: We show that NO-GC (β1 subunit) is distinctly expressed in neurons of the mouse spinal cord, while its distribution in dorsal root ganglia is restricted to non-neuronal cells. GC-KO mice exhibited a considerably reduced nociceptive behavior in models of inflammatory or neuropathic pain, but their responses to acute pain were not impaired. Moreover, GC-KO mice failed to develop pain sensitization induced by spinal administration of drugs releasing NO. Surprisingly, during spinal nociceptive processing cGMP produced by NO-GC may activate signaling pathways different from cGMP-dependent protein kinase I (cGKI), while cGKI can be activated by natriuretic peptide receptor-B (NPR-B) dependent cGMP production. Conclusion: Taken together, our results provide evidence that NO-GC has a dominant role in the development of exaggerated pain sensitivity during inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Furthermore, beside the NO-mediated cGMP synthesis, cGMP produced by NPR-B contributes to pain sensitization by activation of cGKI.
- R-flurbiprofen reduces neuropathic pain in rodents by restoring endogenous cannabinoids (2010)
- Background: R-flurbiprofen, one of the enantiomers of flurbiprofen racemate, is inactive with respect to cyclooxygenase inhibition, but shows analgesic properties without relevant toxicity. Its mode of action is still unclear. Methodology/Principal Findings: We show that R-flurbiprofen reduces glutamate release in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord evoked by sciatic nerve injury and thereby alleviates pain in sciatic nerve injury models of neuropathic pain in rats and mice. This is mediated by restoring the balance of endocannabinoids (eCB), which is disturbed following peripheral nerve injury in the DRGs, spinal cord and forebrain. The imbalance results from transcriptional adaptations of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and NAPE-phospholipase D, i.e. the major enzymes involved in anandamide metabolism and synthesis, respectively. R-flurbiprofen inhibits FAAH activity and normalizes NAPE-PLD expression. As a consequence, R-Flurbiprofen improves endogenous cannabinoid mediated effects, indicated by the reduction of glutamate release, increased activity of the anti-inflammatory transcription factor PPAR gamma and attenuation of microglia activation. Antinociceptive effects are lost by combined inhibition of CB1 and CB2 receptors and partially abolished in CB1 receptor deficient mice. R-flurbiprofen does however not cause changes of core body temperature which is a typical indicator of central effects of cannabinoid-1 receptor agonists. Conclusion: Our results suggest that R-flurbiprofen improves the endogenous mechanisms to regain stability after axonal injury and to fend off chronic neuropathic pain by modulating the endocannabinoid system and thus constitutes an attractive, novel therapeutic agent in the treatment of chronic, intractable pain.
- Presynaptically localized cyclic GMP-dependent Protein Kinase 1 is a key determinant of spinal synaptic potentiation and pain hypersensitivity (2012)
- Synaptic long-term potentiation (LTP) at spinal neurons directly communicating pain-specific inputs from the periphery to the brain has been proposed to serve as a trigger for pain hypersensitivity in pathological states. Previous studies have functionally implicated the NMDA receptor-NO pathway and the downstream second messenger, cGMP, in these processes. Because cGMP can broadly influence diverse ion-channels, kinases, and phosphodiesterases, pre- as well as post-synaptically, the precise identity of cGMP targets mediating spinal LTP, their mechanisms of action, and their locus in the spinal circuitry are still unclear. Here, we found that Protein Kinase G1 (PKG-I) localized presynaptically in nociceptor terminals plays an essential role in the expression of spinal LTP. Using the Cre-lox P system, we generated nociceptor-specific knockout mice lacking PKG-I specifically in presynaptic terminals of nociceptors in the spinal cord, but not in post-synaptic neurons or elsewhere (SNS-PKG-I−/− mice). Patch clamp recordings showed that activity-induced LTP at identified synapses between nociceptors and spinal neurons projecting to the periaqueductal grey (PAG) was completely abolished in SNS-PKG-I−/− mice, although basal synaptic transmission was not affected. Analyses of synaptic failure rates and paired-pulse ratios indicated a role for presynaptic PKG-I in regulating the probability of neurotransmitter release. Inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor 1 and myosin light chain kinase were recruited as key phosphorylation targets of presynaptic PKG-I in nociceptive neurons. Finally, behavioural analyses in vivo showed marked defects in SNS-PKG-I−/− mice in several models of activity-induced nociceptive hypersensitivity, and pharmacological studies identified a clear contribution of PKG-I expressed in spinal terminals of nociceptors. Our results thus indicate that presynaptic mechanisms involving an increase in release probability from nociceptors are operational in the expression of synaptic LTP on spinal-PAG projection neurons and that PKG-I localized in presynaptic nociceptor terminals plays an essential role in this process to regulate pain sensitivity.
- Current evidence for a modulation of low back pain by human genetic variants (2009)
- The manifestation of chronic back pain depends on structural, psychosocial, occupational and genetic influences. Heritability estimates for back pain range from 30% to 45%. Genetic influences are caused by genes affecting intervertebral disc degeneration or the immune response and genes involved in pain perception, signalling and psychological processing. This inter-individual variability which is partly due to genetic differences would require an individualized pain management to prevent the transition from acute to chronic back pain or improve the outcome. The genetic profile may help to define patients at high risk for chronic pain. We summarize genetic factors that (i) impact on intervertebral disc stability, namely Collagen IX, COL9A3, COL11A1, COL11A2, COL1A1, aggrecan (AGAN), cartilage intermediate layer protein, vitamin D receptor, metalloproteinsase-3 (MMP3), MMP9, and thrombospondin-2, (ii) modify inflammation, namely interleukin-1 (IL-1) locus genes and IL-6 and (iii) and pain signalling namely guanine triphosphate (GTP) cyclohydrolase 1, catechol-O-methyltransferase, μ opioid receptor (OPMR1), melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), transient receptor potential channel A1 and fatty acid amide hydrolase and analgesic drug metabolism (cytochrome P450 [CYP]2D6, CYP2C9).
- Nerve injury evoked loss of latexin expression in spinal cord neurons contributes to the development of neuropathic pain (2011)
- Nerve injury leads to sensitization mechanisms in the peripheral and central nervous system which involve transcriptional and post-transcriptional modifications in sensory nerves. To assess protein regulations in the spinal cord after injury of the sciatic nerve in the Spared Nerve Injury model (SNI) we performed a proteomic analysis using 2D-difference gel electrophoresis (DIGE) technology. Among approximately 2300 protein spots separated on each gel we detected 55 significantly regulated proteins after SNI whereof 41 were successfully identified by MALDI-TOF MS. Out of the proteins which were regulated in the DIGE analyses after SNI we focused on the carboxypeptidase A inhibitor latexin because protease dysfunctions contribute to the development of neuropathic pain. Latexin protein expression was reduced after SNI which could be confirmed by Western Blot analysis, quantitative RT-PCR and in-situ hybridisation. The decrease of latexin was associated with an increase of the activity of carboxypeptidase A indicating that the balance between latexin and carboxypeptidase A was impaired in the spinal cord after peripheral nerve injury due to a loss of latexin expression in spinal cord neurons. This may contribute to the development of cold allodynia because normalization of neuronal latexin expression in the spinal cord by AAV-mediated latexin transduction or administration of a small molecule carboxypeptidase A inhibitor significantly reduced acetone-evoked nociceptive behavior after SNI. Our results show the usefulness of proteomics as a screening tool to identify novel mechanisms of nerve injury evoked hypernociception and suggest that carboxypeptidase A inhibition might be useful to reduce cold allodynia.
- The role of cGMP and PKG-I in spinal nociceptive processing (2005)
- First paragraph (this article has no abstract) Persistent stimulation of nociceptors results in sensitization of nociceptive sensory neurons, which is associated with hyperalgesia and allodynia. The release of NO and subsequent synthesis of cGMP in the spinal cord are involved in this process. cGMP-dependent protein kinase I (PKG-I) has been suggested to act as a downstream target of cGMP, but its exact role in nociception hadn't been characterized yet. To further evaluate the NO/cGMP/PKG-I pathway in nociception we assessed the effects of PKG-I inhibiton and activaton in the rat formalin assay and analyzed the nociceptive behavior of PKG-I-/- mice. Open access article.
- Learning and memory with neuropathic pain: impact of old age and progranulin deficiency (2013)
- Persistent neuropathic pain is a frequent consequence of peripheral nerve injuries, particularly in the elderly. Using the IntelliCage we studied if sciatic nerve injury obstructed learning and memory in young and aged mice, each in wild type and progranulin deficient mice, which develop premature signs of brain aging. Both young and aged mice developed long-term nerve injury-evoked hyperalgesia and allodynia. In both genotypes, aged mice with neuropathic pain showed high error rates in place avoidance acquisition tasks. However, once learnt, these aged mice with neuropathic pain showed a significantly stronger maintenance of the aversive memory. Nerve injury did not affect place preference behavior in neither genotype, neither in young nor aged mice. However, nerve injury in progranulin deficient mice impaired the learning of spatial sequences of awarded places, particularly in the aged mice. This task required a discrimination of clockwise and anti-clockwise sequences. The chaining failure occurred only in progranulin deficient mice after nerve injury, but not in sham operated or wildtype mice, suggesting that progranulin was particularly important for compensatory adaptations after nerve injury. In contrast, all aged mice with neuropathic pain, irrespective of the genotype, had a long maintenance of aversive memory suggesting a negative alliance and possibly mutual aggravation of chronic neuropathic pain and aversive memory at old age.
- Progranulin contributes to endogenous mechanisms of pain defense after nerve injury in mice (2012)
- Progranulin haploinsufficiency is associated with frontotemporal dementia in humans. Deficiency of progranulin led to exaggerated inflammation and premature aging in mice. The role of progranulin in adaptations to nerve injury and neuropathic pain are still unknown. Here we found that progranulin is up-regulated after injury of the sciatic nerve in the mouse ipsilateral dorsal root ganglia and spinal cord, most prominently in the microglia surrounding injured motor neurons. Progranulin knockdown by continuous intrathecal spinal delivery of small interfering RNA after sciatic nerve injury intensified neuropathic pain-like behaviour and delayed the recovery of motor functions. Compared to wild-type mice, progranulin-deficient mice developed more intense nociceptive hypersensitivity after nerve injury. The differences escalated with aging. Knockdown of progranulin reduced the survival of dissociated primary neurons and neurite outgrowth, whereas addition of recombinant progranulin rescued primary dorsal root ganglia neurons from cell death induced by nerve growth factor withdrawal. Thus, up-regulation of progranulin after neuronal injury may reduce neuropathic pain and help motor function recovery, at least in part, by promoting survival of injured neurons and supporting regrowth. A deficiency in this mechanism may increase the risk for injury-associated chronic pain.
- Inter-strain differences of serotonergic inhibitory pain control in inbred mice (2010)
- Background: Descending inhibitory pain control contributes to the endogenous defense against chronic pain and involves noradrenergic and serotonergic systems. The clinical efficacy of antidepressants suggests that serotonin may be particularly relevant for neuropathic pain conditions. Serotonergic signaling is regulated by synthesis, metabolisms, reuptake and receptors. To address the complexity, we used inbred mouse strains, C57BL/6J, 129 Sv, DBA/2J and Balb/c, which differ in brain serotonin levels. Results: Serotonin analysis after nerve injury revealed inter-strain differences in the adaptation of descending serotonergic fibers. Upregulation of spinal cord and midbrain serotonin was apparent only in 129 Sv mice and was associated with attenuated nerve injury evoked hyperalgesia and allodynia in this strain. The increase of dorsal horn serotonin was blocked by hemisectioning of descending fibers but not by rhizotomy of primary afferents indicating a midbrain source. Para-chlorophenylalanine-mediated serotonin depletion in spinal cord and midbrain intensified pain hypersensitivity in the nerve injury model. In contrast, chronic inflammation of the hindpaw did not evoke equivalent changes in serotonin levels in the spinal cord and midbrain and nociceptive thresholds dropped in a parallel manner in all strains. Conclusion: The results suggest that chronic nerve injury evoked hypernociception may be contributed by genetic differences of descending serotonergic inhibitory control.