Dorsal horn-enriched genes identified by DNA microarray, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Neurons in the dorsal spinal cord play important roles in nociception and pain. These neurons receive input from peripheral sensory neurons and then transmit the signals to the brain, as well as receive and integrate descending control signals from the brain. Many molecules important for pain transmission have been demonstrated to be localized to the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Further understanding of the molecular interactions and signaling pathways in the dorsal horn neurons will require a better knowledge of the molecular neuroanatomy in the dorsal spinal cord. RESULTS:A large scale screening was conducted for genes with enriched expression in the dorsal spinal cord using DNA microarray and quantitative real-time PCR. In addition to genes known to be specifically expressed in the dorsal spinal cord, other neuropeptides, receptors, ion channels, and signaling molecules were also found enriched in the dorsal spinal cord. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry revealed the cellular expression of a subset of these genes. The regulation of a subset of the genes was also studied in the spinal nerve ligation (SNL) neuropathic pain model. In general, we found that the genes that are enriched in the dorsal spinal cord were not among those found to be up-regulated in the spinal nerve ligation model of neuropathic pain. This study also provides a level of validation of the use of DNA microarrays in conjunction with our novel analysis algorithm (SAFER) for the identification of differences in gene expression. CONCLUSION:This study identified molecules that are enriched in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and provided a molecular neuroanatomy in the spinal cord, which will aid in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms important in nociception and pain.
Project description:Neuropathic pain is a chronic condition that occurs frequently after nerve injury and induces hypersensitivity or allodynia characterized by aberrant neuronal excitability in the spinal cord dorsal horn. Fibronectin leucine-rich transmembrane protein 3 (FLRT3) is a modulator of neurite outgrowth, axon pathfinding, and cell adhesion, which is upregulated in the dorsal horn following peripheral nerve injury. However, the function of FLRT3 in adults remains unknown. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the involvement of spinal FLRT3 in neuropathic pain using rodent models. In the dorsal horns of male rats, FLRT3 protein levels increased at day 4 after peripheral nerve injury. In the DRG, FLRT3 was expressed in activating transcription factor 3-positive, injured sensory neurons. Peripheral nerve injury stimulated Flrt3 transcription in the DRG but not in the spinal cord. Intrathecal administration of FLRT3 protein to naive rats induced mechanical allodynia and GluN2B phosphorylation in the spinal cord. DRG-specific FLRT3 overexpression using adeno-associated virus also produced mechanical allodynia. Conversely, a function-blocking FLRT3 antibody attenuated mechanical allodynia after partial sciatic nerve ligation. Therefore, FLRT3 derived from injured DRG neurons increases dorsal horn excitability and induces mechanical allodynia.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Neuropathic pain occurs frequently after nerve injury and is associated with abnormal neuronal excitability in the spinal cord. Fibronectin leucine-rich transmembrane protein 3 (FLRT3) regulates neurite outgrowth and cell adhesion. Here, nerve injury increased FLRT3 protein levels in the spinal cord dorsal root, despite the fact that Flrt3 transcripts were only induced in the DRG. FLRT3 protein injection into the rat spinal cord induced mechanical hypersensitivity, as did virus-mediated FLRT3 overexpression in DRG. Conversely, FLRT3 inhibition with antibodies attenuated mechanically induced pain after nerve damage. These findings suggest that FLRT3 is produced by injured DRG neurons and increases neuronal excitability in the dorsal horn, leading to pain sensitization. Neuropathic pain induction is a novel function of FLRT3.
Project description:Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress has been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, but its role in neuropathic pain remains unclear. In this study, we examined the ER stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR) activation in a L5 spinal nerve ligation (SNL)-induced rat neuropathic pain model. SNL-induced neuropathic pain was assessed behaviorally using the CatWalk system, and histologically with microglial activation in the dorsal spinal horn. L5 SNL induced BIP upregulation in the neuron of superficial laminae of dorsal spinal horn. It also increased the level of ATF6 and intracellular localization into the nuclei in the neurons. Moreover, spliced XBP1 was also markedly elevated in the ipsilateral spinal dorsal horn. The PERK-elF2 pathway was activated in astrocytes of the spinal dorsal horn in the SNL model. In addition, electron microscopy revealed the presence of swollen cisternae in the dorsal spinal cord after SNL. Additionally, inhibition of the ATF6 pathway by intrathecal treatment with ATF6 siRNA reduced pain behaviors and BIP expression in the dorsal horn. The results suggest that ER stress might be involved in the induction and maintenance of neuropathic pain. Furthermore, a disturbance in UPR signaling may render the spinal neurons vulnerable to peripheral nerve injury or neuropathic pain stimuli.
Project description:Circular RNAs are non-coding RNAs, and are enriched in the CNS. Dorsal horn neurons of the spinal cord contribute to pain-like hypersensitivity after nerve injury in rodents. Here we show that spinal nerve ligation is associated with an increase in expression of circAnks1a in dorsal horn neurons, in both the cytoplasm and the nucleus. Downregulation of circAnks1a by siRNA attenuates pain-like behaviour induced by nerve injury. In the cytoplasm, we show that circAnks1a promotes the interaction between transcription factor YBX1 and transportin-1, thus facilitating the nucleus translocation of YBX1. In the nucleus, circAnks1a binds directly to the Vegfb promoter, increases YBX1 recruitment to the Vegfb promoter, thereby facilitating transcription. Furthermore, cytoplasmic circAnks1a acts as a miRNA sponge in miR-324-3p-mediated posttranscriptional regulation of VEGFB expression. The upregulation of VEGFB contributes to increased excitability of dorsal horn neurons and pain behaviour induced by nerve injury. We propose that circAnks1a and VEGFB are regulators of neuropathic pain.
Project description:Our previous study showed that activation of c-jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) in spinal astrocytes plays an important role in neuropathic pain sensitization. We further investigated how JNK regulates neuropathic pain. In cultured astrocytes, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) transiently activated JNK via TNF receptor-1. Cytokine array indicated that the chemokine CCL2/MCP-1 (monocyte chemoattractant protein-1) was strongly induced by the TNF-alpha/JNK pathway. MCP-1 upregulation by TNF-alpha was dose dependently inhibited by the JNK inhibitors SP600125 (anthra[1,9-cd]pyrazol-6(2H)-one) and D-JNKI-1. Spinal injection of TNF-alpha produced JNK-dependent pain hypersensitivity and MCP-1 upregulation in the spinal cord. Furthermore, spinal nerve ligation (SNL) induced persistent neuropathic pain and MCP-1 upregulation in the spinal cord, and both were suppressed by D-JNKI-1. Remarkably, MCP-1 was primarily induced in spinal cord astrocytes after SNL. Spinal administration of MCP-1 neutralizing antibody attenuated neuropathic pain. Conversely, spinal application of MCP-1 induced heat hyperalgesia and phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase in superficial spinal cord dorsal horn neurons, indicative of central sensitization (hyperactivity of dorsal horn neurons). Patch-clamp recordings in lamina II neurons of isolated spinal cord slices showed that MCP-1 not only enhanced spontaneous EPSCs but also potentiated NMDA- and AMPA-induced currents. Finally, the MCP-1 receptor CCR2 was expressed in neurons and some non-neuronal cells in the spinal cord. Together, we have revealed a previously unknown mechanism of MCP-1 induction and action. MCP-1 induction in astrocytes after JNK activation contributes to central sensitization and neuropathic pain facilitation by enhancing excitatory synaptic transmission. Inhibition of the JNK/MCP-1 pathway may provide a new therapy for neuropathic pain management.
Project description:Voltage-gated calcium channel ?2 ?1 subunit is the binding site for gabapentin, an effective drug in controlling neuropathic pain states including thermal hyperalgesia. Hyperalgesia to noxious thermal stimuli in both spinal nerve-ligated (SNL) and voltage-gated calcium channel ?2 ?1 overexpressing transgenic (Tg) mice correlates with higher ?2 ?1 levels in dorsal root ganglia and dorsal spinal cord. In this study, we investigated whether abnormal synaptic transmission is responsible for thermal hyperalgesia induced by elevated ?2 ?1 expression in these models.Behavioural sensitivities to thermal stimuli were test in L4 SNL and sham mice, as well as in ?2 ?1 Tg and wild-type mice. Miniature excitatory (mEPSC) and inhibitory (mIPSC) post-synaptic currents were recorded in superficial dorsal spinal cord neurons from these models using whole-cell patch clamp slice recording techniques.The frequency, but not amplitude, of mEPSC in superficial dorsal horn neurons was increased in SNL and ?2 ?1 Tg mice, which could be attenuated by gabapentin dose dependently. Intrathecal ?2 ?1 antisense oligodeoxynucleotide treatment diminished increased mEPSC frequency and gabapentin's inhibitory effects in elevated mEPSC frequency in the SNL mice. In contrast, neither the frequency nor the amplitude of mIPSC was altered in superficial dorsal horn neurons from the SNL and ?2 ?1 Tg mice.Our findings support a role of peripheral nerve injury-induced ?2 ?1 in enhancing pre-synaptic excitatory input onto superficial dorsal spinal cord neurons that contributes to nociception development.
Project description:Spinal cord injury (SCI) can result in hyperexcitability of dorsal horn neurons and central neuropathic pain. We hypothesized that these phenomena are consequences, in part, of dysregulated expression of voltage-gated sodium channels. Because the rapidly repriming TTX-sensitive sodium channel Nav1.3 has been implicated in peripheral neuropathic pain, we investigated its role in central neuropathic pain after SCI. In this study, adult male Sprague Dawley rats underwent T9 spinal contusion injury. Four weeks after injury when extracellular recordings demonstrated hyperexcitability of L3-L5 dorsal horn multireceptive nociceptive neurons, and when pain-related behaviors were evident, quantitative RT-PCR, in situ hybridization, and immunocytochemistry revealed an upregulation of Nav1.3 in dorsal horn nociceptive neurons. Intrathecal administration of antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) targeting Nav1.3 resulted in decreased expression of Nav1.3 mRNA and protein, reduced hyperexcitability of multireceptive dorsal horn neurons, and attenuated mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia after SCI. Expression of Nav1.3 protein and hyperexcitability in dorsal horn neurons as well as pain-related behaviors returned after cessation of antisense delivery. Responses to normally noxious stimuli and motor function were unchanged in SCI animals administered Nav1.3 antisense, and administration of mismatch ODNs had no effect. These results demonstrate for the first time that Nav1.3 is upregulated in second-order dorsal horn sensory neurons after nervous system injury, showing that SCI can trigger changes in sodium channel expression, and suggest a functional link between Nav1.3 expression and neuronal hyperexcitability associated with central neuropathic pain.
Project description:Upon peripheral nerve injury, vesicular ATP is released from damaged primary afferent neurons. This extracellular ATP subsequently activates purinergic receptors of the spinal cord, which play a critical role in neuropathic pain. As an inhibitor of the vesicular nucleotide transporter (VNUT), Evans blue (EB) inhibits the vesicular storage and release of ATP in neurons. Thus, we tested whether EB could attenuate neuropathic pain behavior induced by spinal nerve ligation (SNL) in rats by targeting VNUT. An intrathecal injection of EB efficiently attenuated mechanical allodynia for five days in a dose-dependent manner and enhanced locomotive activity in an SNL rat model. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that EB was found in VNUT immunoreactivity on neurons in the dorsal root ganglion and the spinal dorsal horn. The level of ATP in cerebrospinal fluid in rats with SNL-induced neuropathic pain decreased upon administration of EB. Interestingly, EB blocked ATP release from neurons, but not glial cells in vitro. Eventually, the loss of ATP decreased microglial activity in the ipsilateral dorsal horn of the spinal cord, followed by a reduction in reactive oxygen species and proinflammatory mediators, such as interleukin (IL)-1? and IL-6. Finally, a similar analgesic effect of EB was demonstrated in rats with monoiodoacetate-induced osteoarthritis (OA) pain. Taken together, these data demonstrate that EB prevents ATP release in the spinal dorsal horn and reduces the ATP/purinergic receptor-induced activation of spinal microglia followed by a decline in algogenic substances, thereby relieving neuropathic pain in rats with SNL.
Project description:Increased N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) activity and phosphorylation in the spinal cord are critically involved in the synaptic plasticity and central sensitization associated with neuropathic pain. However, the mechanisms underlying increased NMDAR activity in neuropathic pain conditions remain poorly understood. Here we show that peripheral nerve injury induces a large GluN2A-mediated increase in NMDAR activity in spinal lamina II, but not lamina I, neurons. However, NMDAR currents in spinal dorsal horn neurons are not significantly altered in rat models of diabetic neuropathic pain and resiniferatoxin-induced painful neuropathy (postherpedic neuralgia). Inhibition of protein tyrosine kinases or protein kinase C has little effect on NMDAR currents potentiated by nerve injury. Strikingly, casein kinase II (CK2) inhibitors normalize increased NMDAR currents of dorsal horn neurons in nerve-injured rats. In addition, inhibition of calcineurin, but not protein phosphatase 1/2A, augments NMDAR currents only in control rats. CK2 inhibition blocks the increase in spinal NMDAR activity by the calcineurin inhibitor in control rats. Furthermore, nerve injury significantly increases CK2? and CK2? protein levels in the spinal cord. In addition, inhibition of CK2 or CK2? knockdown at the spinal level substantially reverses pain hypersensitivity induced by nerve injury. Our study indicates that neuropathic pain conditions with different etiologies do not share the same mechanisms, and increased spinal NMDAR activity is distinctly associated with traumatic nerve injury. CK2 plays a prominent role in the potentiation of NMDAR activity in the spinal dorsal horn and may represent a new target for treatments of chronic pain caused by nerve injury.
Project description:Neuropathic pain is a chronic debilitating disease that results from nerve damage, persists long after the injury has subsided, and is characterized by spontaneous pain and mechanical hypersensitivity. Although loss of inhibitory tone in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord is a major contributor to neuropathic pain, the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying this disinhibition are unclear. Here, we combined pharmacogenetic activation and selective ablation approaches in mice to define the contribution of spinal cord parvalbumin (PV)-expressing inhibitory interneurons in naive and neuropathic pain conditions. Ablating PV neurons in naive mice produce neuropathic pain-like mechanical allodynia via disinhibition of PKC? excitatory interneurons. Conversely, activating PV neurons in nerve-injured mice alleviates mechanical hypersensitivity. These findings indicate that PV interneurons are modality-specific filters that gate mechanical but not thermal inputs to the dorsal horn and that increasing PV interneuron activity can ameliorate the mechanical hypersensitivity that develops following nerve injury.
Project description:Peripheral nerve injury induces upregulation of the calcium channel alpha2delta-1 structural subunit in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and dorsal spinal cord of spinal nerve-ligated rats with neuropathic pain, suggesting a role of the calcium channel alpha2delta-1 subunit in central sensitization. To investigate whether spinal dorsal horn alpha2delta-1 subunit upregulation derives from increased DRG alpha2delta-1 subunit and plays a causal role in neuropathic pain development, we examined spinal dorsal hornalpha2delta-1 subunit expression with or without dorsal rhizotomy in spinal nerve-ligated rats and its correlation with tactile allodynia, a neuropathic pain state defined as reduced thresholds to non-noxious tactile stimulation. We also examined the effects of intrathecal alpha2delta-1 antisense oligonucleotides on alpha2delta-1 subunit expression and neuropathic allodynia in the nerve-ligated rats. Our data indicated that spinal nerve injury resulted in time-dependentalpha2delta-1 subunit upregulation in the spinal dorsal horn that correlated temporally with neuropathic allodynia development and maintenance. Dorsal rhizotomy diminished basal level expression and blocked injury-induced expression of the spinal dorsal hornalpha2delta-1 subunit and reversed injury-induced tactile allodynia. In addition, intrathecal alpha2delta-1 antisense oligonucleotides blocked injury-induced dorsal horn alpha2delta-1 subunit upregulation and diminished tactile allodynia. These findings indicate that alpha2delta-1 subunit basal expression occurs presynaptically and postsynaptically in spinal dorsal horn. Nerve injury induces mainly presynaptic alpha2delta-1 subunit expression that derives from increased alpha2delta-1 subunit in injured DRG neurons. Thus, changes in presynaptic alpha2delta-1 subunit expression contribute to injury-induced spinal neuroplasticity and central sensitization that underlies neuropathic pain development and maintenance.