GPR34 in spinal microglia exacerbates neuropathic pain in mice.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Neuropathic pain is caused by sensory nerve injury, but effective treatments are currently lacking. Microglia are activated in the spinal dorsal horn after sensory nerve injury and contribute to neuropathic pain. Accordingly, molecules expressed by these cells are considered potential targets for therapeutic strategies. Our previous gene screening study using a mouse model of motor nerve injury showed that the G-protein-coupled receptor 34 gene (GPR34) is induced by nerve injury. Because GPR34 is now considered a microglia-enriched gene, we explored the possibility that it might be involved in microglial activation in the dorsal horn in a mouse model of neuropathic pain. METHODS:mRNA expression of GPR34 and pro-inflammatory molecules was determined by quantitative real-time PCR in wild-type and GPR34-deficient mice with L4 spinal nerve injury. In situ hybridization was used to identify GPR34 expression in microglia, and immunohistochemistry with the microglial marker Iba1 was performed to examine microglial numbers and morphology. Mechanical sensitivity was evaluated by the von Frey hair test. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry quantified expression of the ligand for GPR34, lysophosphatidylserine (LysoPS), in the dorsal horn, and a GPR34 antagonist was intrathecally administrated to examine the effect of inhibiting LysoPS-GPR34 signaling on mechanical sensitivity. RESULTS:GPR34 was predominantly expressed by microglia in the dorsal horn after L4 nerve injury. There were no histological differences in microglial numbers or morphology between WT and GPR34-deficient mice. However, nerve injury-induced pro-inflammatory cytokine expression levels in microglia and pain behaviors were significantly attenuated in GPR34-deficient mice. Furthermore, the intrathecal administration of the GPR34 antagonist reduced neuropathic pain. CONCLUSIONS:Inhibition of GPR34-mediated signal by GPR34 gene deletion reduced nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain by suppressing pro-inflammatory responses of microglia without affecting their morphology. Therefore, the suppression of GPR34 activity may have therapeutic potential for alleviating neuropathic pain.
Project description:Neuropathic pain afflicts millions of people, and the development of an effective treatment for this intractable pain is an urgent issue. Recent evidence has implicated microglia in neuropathic pain. The present study showed that the DNAX-activating protein of 12 kDa (DAP12) and its associated "triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2" (TREM2) were predominantly expressed by microglia in the dorsal horn after spinal nerve injury, revealing a role for TREM2/DAP12 signaling in neuropathic pain. Nerve injury-induced proinflammatory cytokine expression in microglia and pain behaviors were significantly suppressed in Dap12-deficient mice. Furthermore, intrathecal administration of TREM2 agonistic antibody induced proinflammatory cytokine expression, as well as neuropathic pain, in mice without nerve injury. The agonistic antibody induced proinflammatory responses and neuropathic pain was not observed in Dap12-deficient mice. Together, these results suggest that TREM2/DAP12-mediated signals in microglia exacerbate nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain by inducing proinflammatory cytokine secretion from microglia. Suppression of DAP12-mediated signals could be a therapeutic target for neuropathic pain. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT:Recent studies have revealed that activated microglia in the spinal dorsal horn exacerbate neuropathic pain, which has suggested that suppression of microglial activity should be considered as a therapeutic target. However, only a few molecules have been identified as regulators of microglial activity. In this study, we focused on a receptor complex of TREM2 and DAP12, both of which are expressed by microglia and have been implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, and demonstrated that TREM2/DAP12 signaling promoted proinflammatory responses in microglia and exacerbates neuropathic pain. The present results revealed the functional significance of TREM2/DAP12 signaling in microglial activation after neuronal injury, and could help in the development of treatments for neuropathic pain and neurodegenerative diseases.
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:Peripheral nerve injury causes neuropathic pain accompanied by remarkable microgliosis in the spinal cord dorsal horn. However, it is still debated whether infiltrated monocytes contribute to injury-induced expansion of the microglial population. Here, we found that spinal microgliosis predominantly results from local proliferation of resident microglia but not from infiltrating monocytes after spinal nerve transection (SNT) by using two genetic mouse models (CCR2(RFP/+):CX3CR1(GFP/+) and CX3CR1(creER/+):R26(tdTomato/+) mice) as well as specific staining of microglia and macrophages. Pharmacological inhibition of SNT-induced microglial proliferation correlated with attenuated neuropathic pain hypersensitivities. Microglial proliferation is partially controlled by purinergic and fractalkine signaling, as CX3CR1(-/-) and P2Y12(-/-) mice show reduced spinal microglial proliferation and neuropathic pain. These results suggest that local microglial proliferation is the sole source of spinal microgliosis, which represents a potential therapeutic target for neuropathic pain management.
Project description:Mlxipl regulates glucose metabolism, lipogenesis and tumorigenesis and has a wide-ranging impact on human health and disease. However, the role of Mlxipl in neuropathic pain remains unknown. In this study, we found that Mlxipl was increased in the ipsilateral L4-L6 spinal dorsal horn after Spared Nerve Injury surgery. Knockdown of Mlxipl in the ipsilateral L4-L6 spinal dorsal horn by intraspinal microinjection aggravated Spared Nerve Injury-induced mechanical allodynia and inflammation in the spinal dorsal horn, on the contrary, overexpression of Mlxipl inhibited mechanical allodynia and inflammation. Subsequently, the rat Mlxipl promoter was analyzed using bioinformatics methods to predict the upstream transcription factor cJun. Luciferase assays and ChIP-qPCR confirmed that cJun bound to the promoter of Mlxipl and enhanced its expression. Finally, we demonstrated that Mlxipl inhibited the inflammatory responses of lipopolysaccharide-induced microglia and that Mlxipl was regulated by the transcription factor cJun. These findings suggested that cJun-induced Mlxipl upregulation in the spinal dorsal horn after peripheral nerve injury provided a protective mechanism for the development and progression of neuropathic pain by inhibiting microglial-derived neuroinflammation. Targeting Mlxipl in the spinal dorsal horn might represent an effective strategy for the treatment of neuropathic pain.
Project description:Clinical studies show that chronic pain is accompanied by memory deficits and reduction in hippocampal volume. Experimental studies show that spared nerve injury (SNI) of the sciatic nerve induces long-term potentiation (LTP) at C-fiber synapses in spinal dorsal horn, but impairs LTP in the hippocampus. The opposite changes may contribute to neuropathic pain and memory deficits, respectively. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the functional synaptic changes are unclear. Here, we show that the dendrite lengths and spine densities are reduced significantly in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons, but increased in spinal neurokinin-1-positive neurons in mice after SNI, indicating that the excitatory synaptic connectivity is reduced in hippocampus but enhanced in spinal dorsal horn in this neuropathic pain model. Mechanistically, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-?) is upregulated in bilateral hippocampus and in ipsilateral spinal dorsal horn, whereas brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is decreased in the hippocampus but increased in the ipsilateral spinal dorsal horn after SNI. Importantly, the SNI-induced opposite changes in synaptic connectivity and BDNF expression are prevented by genetic deletion of TNF receptor 1 in vivo and are mimicked by TNF-? in cultured slices. Furthermore, SNI activated microglia in both spinal dorsal horn and hippocampus; pharmacological inhibition or genetic ablation of microglia prevented the region-dependent synaptic changes, neuropathic pain, and memory deficits induced by SNI. The data suggest that neuropathic pain involves different structural synaptic alterations in spinal and hippocampal neurons that are mediated by overproduction of TNF-? and microglial activation and may underlie chronic pain and memory deficits.Chronic pain is often accompanied by memory deficits. Previous studies have shown that peripheral nerve injury produces both neuropathic pain and memory deficits and induces long-term potentiation (LTP) at C-fiber synapses in spinal dorsal horn (SDH) but inhibits LTP in hippocampus. The opposite changes in synaptic plasticity may contribute to chronic pain and memory deficits, respectively. However, the structural and molecular bases of these alterations of synaptic plasticity are unclear. Here, we show that the complexity of excitatory synaptic connectivity and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression are enhanced in SDH but reduced in the hippocampus in neuropathic pain and the opposite changes depend on tumor necrosis factor-alpha/tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 signaling and microglial activation. The region-dependent synaptic alterations may underlie chronic neuropathic pain and memory deficits induced by peripheral nerve injury.
Project description:Understanding of the sequence and nature of the events that govern neuron-microglia communication is critical for the discovery of new mechanisms and targets for chronic pain treatment. The neuronal chemokine fractalkine (FKN) and its microglial receptor CX3CR1 may mediate such a function in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord after cleavage of the extracellular domain of this transmembrane chemokine by a protease. Here we report that in neuropathic rat dorsal horn, with dorsal root-attached preparations, soluble FKN (sFKN) contents are increased in the superfusates collected after noxious-like electrical stimulation of ipsilateral primary afferent fibers. The increase of sFKN is prevented by morpholinurea-leucine-homophenylalanine-vinyl sulfone-phenyl (LHVS), an irreversible inhibitor of cathepsin S (CatS) whose proteolytic activity is also increased in the superfusates. The source of CatS activity is microglial cells activated by the peripheral nerve injury and secreting the enzyme, as a result of primary afferent fiber stimulation. Indeed, the acute activation of dorsal horn microglia by lipopolysaccharide results in increased CatS activity in the superfusates, followed by increased sFKN contents. Consistent with these observations ex vivo, the levels of both sFKN and CatS activity in CSF samples increased significantly after peripheral nerve injury, associated with spinal microglial activation. Finally, because we found that both FKN immunoreactivity and mRNA are confined to dorsal horn neurons, we suggest that under neuropathic conditions, noxious stimulation of primary afferent fibers induces release of CatS from microglia, which liberates FKN from dorsal horn neurons, thereby contributing to the amplification and maintenance of chronic pain.
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:A key component in the response of the nervous system to injury is the proliferation and switch to a "proinflammatory" phenotype by microglia (microgliosis). In situations where the blood-brain barrier is intact, microglial numbers increase via the proliferation and chemotaxis of resident microglia; however, there is limited knowledge regarding the factors mediating this response. After peripheral nerve injury, a dorsal horn microgliosis develops, which directly contributes to the development of neuropathic pain. Neuregulin-1 (NRG-1) is a growth and differentiation factor with a well characterized role in neural and cardiac development. Microglia express the NRG1 receptors erbB2, 3, and 4, and NRG1 signaling via the erbB2 receptor stimulated microglial proliferation, chemotaxis, and survival, as well as interleukin-1beta release in vitro. Intrathecal treatment with NRG1 resulted in microglial proliferation within the dorsal horn, and these cells developed an activated morphology. This microglial response was associated with the development of both mechanical and cold pain-related hypersensitivity. Primary afferents express NRG1, and after spinal nerve ligation (SNL) we observed both an increase in NRG1 within the dorsal horn as well as activation of erbB2 specifically within microglia. Blockade of the erbB2 receptor or sequestration of endogenous NRG after SNL reduced the proliferation, the number of microglia with an activated morphology, and the expression of phospho-P38 by microglia. Furthermore, consequent to such changes, the mechanical pain-related hypersensitivity and cold allodynia were reduced. NRG1-erbB signaling therefore represents a novel pathway regulating the injury response of microglia.
Project description:Microglial cells are critical in the pathogenesis of neuropathic pain and several microglial receptors have been proposed to mediate this process. Of these receptors, the P2Y12 receptor is a unique purinergic receptor that is exclusively expressed by microglia in the central nervous system (CNS). In this study, we set forth to investigate the role of P2Y12 receptors in microglial electrophysiological and morphological (static and dynamic) activation during spinal nerve transection (SNT)-induced neuropathic pain in mice. First, we found that a genetic deficiency of the P2Y12 receptor (P2Y12(-/-) mice) ameliorated pain hypersensitivities during the initiation phase of neuropathic pain. Next, we characterised both the electrophysiological and morphological properties of microglia in the superficial spinal cord dorsal horn following SNT injury. We show dramatic alterations including a peak at 3days post injury in microglial electrophysiology while high resolution two-photon imaging revealed significant changes of both static and dynamic microglial morphological properties by 7days post injury. Finally, in P2Y12(-/-) mice, these electrophysiological and morphological changes were ameliorated suggesting roles for P2Y12 receptors in SNT-induced microglial activation. Our results therefore indicate that P2Y12 receptors regulate microglial electrophysiological as well as static and dynamic microglial properties after peripheral nerve injury, suggesting that the microglial P2Y12 receptor could be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of neuropathic pain.
Project description:Peripheral nerve injury induces substantial molecular changes in the somatosensory system that leads to maladaptive plasticity and cause neuropathic pain. Understanding the molecular pathways responsible for the development of neuropathic pain is essential to the development of novel rationally designed therapeutics. Although lipids make up to half of the dry weight of the spinal cord, their relation with the development of neuropathic pain is poorly understood. We aimed to elucidate the regulation of spinal lipids in response to neuropathic peripheral nerve injury in mice by utilizing matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization imaging mass spectrometry, which allows visualization of lipid distribution within the cord. We found that arachidonic acid (AA) containing [PC(diacyl-16:0/20:4)+K]+ was increased temporarily at superficial ipsilateral dorsal horn seven days after spared nerve injury (SNI). The spatiotemporal changes in lipid concentration resembled microglia activation as defined by ionized calcium binding adaptor molecule 1 (Iba1) immunohistochemistry. Suppression of microglial function through minocycline administration resulted in attenuation of hypersensitivity and reduces [PC(diacyl-16:0/20:4)+K]+ elevation in the spinal dorsal horn. These data suggested that AA containing [PC(diacyl-16:0/20:4)+K]+ is related to hypersensitivity evoked by SNI and implicate microglial cell activation in this lipid production.