- 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.
- Conditional gene deletion reveals functional redundancy of GABAB receptors in peripheral nociceptors in vivo (2009)
- Background Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter which mainly mediates its effects on neurons via ionotropic (GABAA) and metabotropic (GABAB) receptors. GABAB receptors are widely expressed in the central and the peripheral nervous system. Although there is evidence for a key function of GABAB receptors in the modulation of pain, the relative contribution of peripherally- versus centrally-expressed GABAB receptors is unclear. Results In order to elucidate the functional relevance of GABAB receptors expressed in peripheral nociceptive neurons in pain modulation we generated and analyzed conditional mouse mutants lacking functional GABAB(1) subunit specifically in nociceptors, preserving expression in the spinal cord and brain (SNS-GABAB(1)-/- mice). Lack of the GABAB(1) subunit precludes the assembly of functional GABAB receptor. We analyzed SNS-GABAB(1)-/- mice and their control littermates in several models of acute and neuropathic pain. Electrophysiological studies on peripheral afferents revealed higher firing frequencies in SNS-GABAB(1)-/- mice compared to corresponding control littermates. However no differences were seen in basal nociceptive sensitivity between these groups. The development of neuropathic and chronic inflammatory pain was similar across the two genotypes. The duration of nocifensive responses evoked by intraplantar formalin injection was prolonged in the SNS-GABAB(1)-/- animals as compared to their control littermates. Pharmacological experiments revealed that systemic baclofen-induced inhibition of formalin-induced nociceptive behaviors was not dependent upon GABAB(1) expression in nociceptors. Conclusion This study addressed contribution of GABAB receptors expressed on primary afferent nociceptive fibers to the modulation of pain. We observed that neither the development of acute and chronic pain nor the analgesic effects of a systematically-delivered GABAB agonist was significantly changed upon a specific deletion of GABAB receptors from peripheral nociceptive neurons in vivo. This lets us conclude that GABAB receptors in the peripheral nervous system play a less important role than those in the central nervous system in the regulation of pain.
- 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.