Dorsal Horn Parvalbumin Neurons Are Gate-Keepers of Touch-Evoked Pain after Nerve Injury.
ABSTRACT: 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: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:To what extent dorsal horn interneurons contribute to the modality specific processing of pain and itch messages is not known. Here, we report that loxp/cre-mediated CNS deletion of TR4, a testicular orphan nuclear receptor, results in loss of many excitatory interneurons in the superficial dorsal horn but preservation of primary afferents and spinal projection neurons. The interneuron loss is associated with a near complete absence of supraspinally integrated pain and itch behaviors, elevated mechanical withdrawal thresholds and loss of nerve injury-induced mechanical hypersensitivity, but reflex responsiveness to noxious heat, nerve injury-induced heat hypersensitivity, and tissue injury-induced heat and mechanical hypersensitivity are intact. We conclude that different subsets of dorsal horn excitatory interneurons contribute to tissue and nerve injury-induced heat and mechanical pain and that the full expression of supraspinally mediated pain and itch behaviors cannot be generated solely by nociceptor and pruritoceptor activation of projection neurons; concurrent activation of excitatory interneurons is essential.
Project description:We show that transsynaptic apoptosis is induced in the superficial dorsal horn (laminas I-III) of the spinal cord by three distinct partial peripheral nerve lesions: spared nerve injury, chronic constriction, and spinal nerve ligation. Ongoing activity in primary afferents of the injured nerve and glutamatergic transmission cause a caspase-dependent degeneration of dorsal horn neurons that is slow in onset and persists for several weeks. Four weeks after spared nerve injury, the cumulative loss of dorsal horn neurons, determined by stereological analysis, is >20%. GABAergic inhibitory interneurons are among the neurons lost, and a marked decrease in inhibitory postsynaptic currents of lamina II neurons coincides with the induction of apoptosis. Blocking apoptosis with the caspase inhibitor benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp(OMe)-fluoromethylketone (zVAD) prevents the loss of GABAergic interneurons and the reduction of inhibitory currents. Partial peripheral nerve injury results in pain-like behavioral changes characterized by hypersensitivity to tactile or cold stimuli. Treatment with zVAD, which has no intrinsic analgesic properties, attenuates this neuropathic pain-like syndrome. Preventing nerve injury-induced apoptosis of dorsal horn neurons by blocking caspase activity maintains inhibitory transmission in lamina II and reduces pain hypersensitivity.
Project description:Vesicular glutamate transporter-2 (VGluT2) mediates the uptake of glutamate into synaptic vesicles in neurons. Spinal cord dorsal horn interneurons are highly heterogeneous and molecularly diverse. The functional significance of VGluT2-expressing dorsal horn neurons in physiological and pathological pain conditions has not been explicitly demonstrated. Designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) are a powerful chemogenetic tool to reversibly control neuronal excitability and behavior. Here, we used transgenic mice with Cre recombinase expression driven by the VGluT2 promoter, combined with the chemogenetic approach, to determine the contribution of VGluT2-expressing dorsal horn neurons to nociceptive regulation. Adeno-associated viral vectors expressing double-floxed Cre-dependent G?q-coupled human M3 muscarinic receptor DREADD (hM3D)-mCherry or G?i-coupled ?-opioid receptor DREADD (KORD)-IRES-mCitrine were microinjected into the superficial spinal dorsal horn of VGluT2-Cre mice. Immunofluorescence labeling showed that VGluT2 was predominantly expressed in lamina II excitatory interneurons. Activation of excitatory hM3D in VGluT2-expressing neurons with clozapine N-oxide caused a profound increase in neuronal firing and synaptic glutamate release. Conversely, activation of inhibitory KORD in VGluT2-expressing neurons with salvinorin B markedly inhibited neuronal activity and synaptic glutamate release. In addition, chemogenetic stimulation of VGluT2-expressing neurons increased mechanical and thermal sensitivities in naive mice, whereas chemogenetic silencing of VGluT2-expressing neurons reversed pain hypersensitivity induced by tissue inflammation and peripheral nerve injury. These findings indicate that VGluT2-expressing excitatory neurons play a crucial role in mediating nociceptive transmission in the spinal dorsal horn. Targeting glutamatergic dorsal horn neurons with inhibitory DREADDs may be a new strategy for treating inflammatory pain and neuropathic pain.
Project description:Partial peripheral nerve injury in adult rats results in neuropathic pain-like hypersensitivity, while that in neonatal rats does not, a phenomenon also observed in humans. We therefore compared gene expression profiles in the dorsal horn of adult and neonatal rats in response to the spared nerve injury (SNI) model of peripheral neuropathic pain. The 148 differentially regulated genes in adult, but not young, rat spinal cords indicate a greater microglial and T-cell response in adult than in young animals. T-cells show a large infiltration in the adult dorsal horn but not in the neonate after SNI. T-cell-deficient Rag1-null adult mice develop less neuropathic mechanical allodynia than controls, and central expression of cytokines involved in T-cell signaling exhibits large relative differences between young and adult animals after SNI. One such cytokine, interferon-gamma (IFNgamma), is upregulated in the dorsal horn after nerve injury in the adult but not neonate, and we show that IFNgamma signaling is required for full expression of adult neuropathic hypersensitivity. These data reveal that T-cell infiltration and activation in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord following peripheral nerve injury contribute to the evolution of neuropathic pain-like hypersensitivity. The neuroimmune interaction following peripheral nerve injury has therefore a substantial adaptive immune component, which is absent or suppressed in the young CNS.
Project description:Paralleling the activation of dorsal horn microglia after peripheral nerve injury is a significant expansion and proliferation of macrophages around injured sensory neurons in dorsal root ganglia (DRG). Here we demonstrate a critical contribution of DRG macrophages, but not those at the nerve injury site, to both the initiation and maintenance of the mechanical hypersensitivity that characterizes the neuropathic pain phenotype. In contrast to the reported sexual dimorphism in the microglial contribution to neuropathic pain, depletion of DRG macrophages reduces nerve injury-induced mechanical hypersensitivity and expansion of DRG macrophages in both male and female mice. However, fewer macrophages are induced in the female mice and deletion of colony-stimulating factor 1 from sensory neurons, which prevents nerve injury-induced microglial activation and proliferation, only reduces macrophage expansion in male mice. Finally, we demonstrate molecular cross-talk between axotomized sensory neurons and macrophages, revealing potential peripheral DRG targets for neuropathic pain management.
Project description:Neuropathic pain, a highly debilitating pain condition that commonly occurs after nerve damage, is a reflection of the aberrant excitability of dorsal horn neurons. This pathologically altered neurotransmission requires a communication with spinal microglia activated by nerve injury. However, how normal resting microglia become activated remains unknown. Here we show that in naive animals spinal microglia express a receptor for the cytokine IFN-gamma (IFN-gammaR) in a cell-type-specific manner and that stimulating this receptor converts microglia into activated cells and produces a long-lasting pain hypersensitivity evoked by innocuous stimuli (tactile allodynia, a hallmark symptom of neuropathic pain). Conversely, ablating IFN-gammaR severely impairs nerve injury-evoked microglia activation and tactile allodynia without affecting microglia in the contralateral dorsal horn or basal pain sensitivity. We also find that IFN-gamma-stimulated spinal microglia show up-regulation of Lyn tyrosine kinase and purinergic P2X(4) receptor, crucial events for neuropathic pain, and genetic approaches provide evidence linking these events to IFN-gammaR-dependent microglial and behavioral alterations. These results suggest that IFN-gammaR is a key element in the molecular machinery through which resting spinal microglia transform into an activated state that drives neuropathic pain.
Project description:Although microglia have been implicated in nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain, the manner by which injured sensory neurons engage microglia remains unclear. We found that peripheral nerve injury induced de novo expression of colony-stimulating factor 1 (CSF1) in injured sensory neurons. CSF1 was transported to the spinal cord, where it targeted the microglial CSF1 receptor (CSF1R). Cre-mediated sensory neuron deletion of Csf1 completely prevented nerve injury-induced mechanical hypersensitivity and reduced microglial activation and proliferation. In contrast, intrathecal injection of CSF1 induced mechanical hypersensitivity and microglial proliferation. Nerve injury also upregulated CSF1 in motoneurons, where it was required for ventral horn microglial activation and proliferation. Downstream of CSF1R, we found that the microglial membrane adaptor protein DAP12 was required for both nerve injury- and intrathecal CSF1-induced upregulation of pain-related microglial genes and the ensuing pain, but not for microglial proliferation. Thus, both CSF1 and DAP12 are potential targets for the pharmacotherapy of neuropathic pain.
Project description:Neuropathic pain is a chronic debilitating disease characterized by mechanical allodynia and spontaneous pain. Because symptoms are often unresponsive to conventional methods of pain treatment, new therapeutic approaches are essential. Here, we describe a strategy that not only ameliorates symptoms of neuropathic pain but is also potentially disease modifying. We show that transplantation of immature telencephalic GABAergic interneurons from the mouse medial ganglionic eminence (MGE) into the adult mouse spinal cord completely reverses the mechanical hypersensitivity produced by peripheral nerve injury. Underlying this improvement is a remarkable integration of the MGE transplants into the host spinal cord circuitry, in which the transplanted cells make functional connections with both primary afferent and spinal cord neurons. By contrast, MGE transplants were not effective against inflammatory pain. Our findings suggest that MGE-derived GABAergic interneurons overcome the spinal cord hyperexcitability that is a hallmark of nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain.
Project description:Dysregulated excitability within the spinal dorsal horn is a critical mediator of chronic pain. In the rodent nerve injury model of neuropathic pain, BDNF-mediated loss of inhibition (disinhibition) gates the potentiation of excitatory GluN2B N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) responses at lamina I dorsal horn synapses. However, the centrality of this mechanism across pain states and species, as well as the molecular linker involved, remain unknown. Here, we show that KCC2-dependent disinhibition is coupled to increased GluN2B-mediated synaptic NMDAR responses in a rodent model of inflammatory pain, with an associated downregulation of the tyrosine phosphatase STEP61. The decreased activity of STEP61 is both necessary and sufficient to prime subsequent phosphorylation and potentiation of GluN2B NMDAR by BDNF at lamina I synapses. Blocking disinhibition reversed the downregulation of STEP61 as well as inflammation-mediated behavioural hypersensitivity. For the first time, we characterize GluN2B-mediated NMDAR responses at human lamina I synapses and show that a human ex vivo BDNF model of pathological pain processing downregulates KCC2 and STEP61 and upregulates phosphorylated GluN2B at dorsal horn synapses. Our results demonstrate that STEP61 is the molecular brake that is lost following KCC2-dependent disinhibition and that the decrease in STEP61 activity drives the potentiation of excitatory GluN2B NMDAR responses in rodent and human models of pathological pain. The ex vivo human BDNF model may thus form a translational bridge between rodents and humans for identification and validation of novel molecular pain targets.