Spinal injection of TNF-α-activated astrocytes produces persistent pain symptom mechanical allodynia by releasing monocyte chemoattractant protein-1

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Glia (Impact Factor: 6.03). 11/2010; 58(15):1871-80. DOI: 10.1002/glia.21056
Source: PubMed


Accumulating evidence suggests that spinal astrocytes play an important role in the genesis of persistent pain, by increasing the activity of spinal cord nociceptive neurons, i.e., central sensitization. However, direct evidence of whether activation of astrocytes is sufficient to induce chronic pain symptoms is lacking. We investigated whether and how spinal injection of activated astrocytes could produce mechanical allodynia, a cardinal feature of chronic pain, in naïve mice. Spinal (intrathecal) injection of astrocytes, which were prepared from cerebral cortexes of neonatal mice and briefly stimulated by tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), induced a substantial decrease in paw withdrawal thresholds, indicating the development of mechanical allodynia. This allodynia was prevented when the astrocyte cultures were pretreated with a peptide inhibitor of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), D-JNKI-1. Of note a short exposure of astrocytes to TNF-α for 15 min dramatically increased the expression and release of the chemokine monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), even 3 h after TNF-α withdrawal, in a JNK-dependent manner. In parallel, intrathecal administration of TNF-α induced MCP-1 expression in spinal cord astrocytes. In particular, mechanical allodynia induced by TNF-α-activated astrocytes was reversed by a MCP-1 neutralizing antibody. Finally, pretreatment of astrocytes with MCP-1 siRNA attenuated astrocytes-induced mechanical allodynia. Taken together, our results suggest that activated astrocytes are sufficient to produce persistent pain symptom in naïve mice by releasing MCP-1.

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Available from: Ru-Rong Ji
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    • "Our previous data have shown that intrathecal injection of TNF-a–activated astrocyte-induced mechanical allodynia was attenuated by both the CCL2 neutralizing antibody and CCL2 siRNA [11]. In vivo study also showed that intrathecal TNF-a markedly increased CCL2 expression in spinal cord astrocytes [11]. Intrathecal injection of CCL2 has been shown to induce chronic pain symptoms such as heat hyperalgesia [12] and mechanical allodynia [43]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The proinflammatory cytokines TNF- and IL-1 have been strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of neuropathic pain, but the intracellular signaling of these cytokines in glial cells are not fully understood. Tumor necrosis factor receptor associated factor 6 (TRAF6) plays a key role in signal transduction in the TNF receptor superfamily and the interleukin-1 receptor superfamily. In this study, we investigated the role of TRAF6 in neuropathic pain in mice following spinal nerve ligation (SNL). SNL induced persistent TRAF6 upregulation in the spinal cord. Interestingly, TRAF6 was mainly colocalized with the astrocytic marker GFAP on SNL day 10 and partially expressed in microglia on SNL day 3. In cultured astrocytes, TRAF6 was up-regulated after exposure to TNF-α or IL-1β. TNF-α or IL-1β also increased CCL2 expression, which was suppressed by both siRNA and shRNA targeting TRAF6. TRAF6 siRNA treatment also inhibited the phosphorylation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) in astrocytes induced by TNF-α or IL-1β. JNK inhibitor D-NKI-1 dose-dependently decreased IL-1-induced CCL2 expression. Moreover, spinal injection of TRAF6 siRNA decreased intrathecal TNF-- or IL-1-induced allodynia and hyperalgesia. Spinal TRAF6 inhibition via TRAF6 siRNA, shRNA lentivirus, or antisense oligodeoxynucleotides partially reversed SNL-induced neuropathic pain and spinal CCL2 expression. Finally, intrathecal injection of TNF-α-activated astrocytes induced mechanical allodynia, which was attenuated by pretreatment of astrocytes with TRAF6 siRNA. Taken together, the results suggest that TRAF6, upregulated in spinal cord astrocytes in the late phase after nerve injury, maintains neuropathic pain by integrating TNF- and IL-1 signaling and activating the JNK/CCL2 pathway in astrocytes.
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    • "Numerous studies have indicated that astrocytes make major contributions to pain-related behavior following peripheral nerve injury and inflammation, and this extensive body of work is covered comprehensively by several recent reviews (Ellis and Bennett, 2013; Ji et al., 2013; Mika et al., 2013). Importantly, spinal injection of astrocytes that had been activated by TNFα was shown to be sufficient to produce mechanical hypersensitivity in uninjured animals (Gao et al., 2010). Far fewer studies have been made of astroglial contributions to neuropathic pain caused by SCI, but the findings thus far show interesting similarities to what has been described in peripheral neuropathic pain models. "
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    ABSTRACT: Neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury (SCI) is common, often intractable, and can be severely debilitating. A number of mechanisms have been proposed for this pain, which are discussed briefly, along with methods for revealing SCI pain in animal models, such as the recently applied conditioned place preference test. During the last decade, studies of animal models have shown that both central neuroinflammation and behavioral hypersensitivity (indirect reflex measures of pain) persist chronically after SCI. Interventions that reduce neuroinflammation have been found to ameliorate pain-related behavior, such as treatment with agents that inhibit the activation states of microglia and/or astroglia (including IL-10, minocycline, etanercept, propentofylline, ibudilast, licofelone, SP600125, carbenoxolone). Reversal of pain-related behavior has also been shown with disruption by an inhibitor (CR8) and/or genetic deletion of cell cycle-related proteins, deletion of a truncated receptor (trkB.T1) for brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), or reduction by antisense knockdown or an inhibitor (AMG9810) of the activity of channels (TRPV1 or Nav1.8) important for electrical activity in primary nociceptors. Nociceptor activity is known to drive central neuroinflammation in peripheral injury models, and nociceptors appear to be an integral component of host defense. Thus, emerging results suggest that spinal and systemic effects of SCI can activate nociceptor-mediated host defense responses that interact via neuroinflammatory signaling with complex central consequences of SCI to drive chronic pain. This broader view of SCI-induced neuroinflammation suggests new targets, and additional complications, for efforts to develop effective treatments for neuropathic SCI pain.
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    • "RNA was dissolved in RNase-free water at 1 mg/ml as stock solution and mixed with the transfection reagent polyethyleneimine (Fermentas) and normal saline before use. Specifically, 1 mg small interfering RNA was dissolved in 3.3 ml of polyethyleneimine and 66 ml of normal saline (Gao et al., 2010c). For intrathecal injection, spinal cord puncture was made with a 30- gauge needle between the L5 and L6 level to deliver reagents (10 ml) or cells (30 000 cells in 10 ml PBS) to the CSF. "
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    ABSTRACT: Accumulating evidence suggests that spinal cord astrocytes play an important role in neuropathic pain sensitization by releasing astrocytic mediators (e.g. cytokines, chemokines and growth factors). However, it remains unclear how astrocytes control the release of astrocytic mediators and sustain late-phase neuropathic pain. Astrocytic connexin-43 (now known as GJ1) has been implicated in gap junction and hemichannel communication of cytosolic contents through the glial syncytia and to the extracellular space, respectively. Connexin-43 also plays an essential role in facilitating the development of neuropathic pain, yet the mechanism for this contribution remains unknown. In this study, we investigated whether nerve injury could upregulate connexin-43 to sustain late-phase neuropathic pain by releasing chemokine from spinal astrocytes. Chronic constriction injury elicited a persistent upregulation of connexin-43 in spinal astrocytes for >3 weeks. Spinal (intrathecal) injection of carbenoxolone (a non-selective hemichannel blocker) and selective connexin-43 blockers (connexin-43 mimetic peptides (43)Gap26 and (37,43)Gap27), as well as astroglial toxin but not microglial inhibitors, given 3 weeks after nerve injury, effectively reduced mechanical allodynia, a cardinal feature of late-phase neuropathic pain. In cultured astrocytes, TNF-α elicited marked release of the chemokine CXCL1, and the release was blocked by carbenoxolone, Gap26/Gap27, and connexin-43 small interfering RNA. TNF-α also increased connexin-43 expression and hemichannel activity, but not gap junction communication in astrocyte cultures prepared from cortices and spinal cords. Spinal injection of TNF-α-activated astrocytes was sufficient to induce persistent mechanical allodynia, and this allodynia was suppressed by CXCL1 neutralization, CXCL1 receptor (CXCR2) antagonist, and pretreatment of astrocytes with connexin-43 small interfering RNA. Furthermore, nerve injury persistently increased excitatory synaptic transmission (spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents) in spinal lamina IIo nociceptive synapses in the late phase, and this increase was suppressed by carbenoxolone and Gap27, and recapitulated by CXCL1. Together, our findings demonstrate a novel mechanism of astrocytic connexin-43 to enhance spinal cord synaptic transmission and maintain neuropathic pain in the late-phase via releasing chemokines.
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