Rohini Kuner's research while affiliated with Heidelberg University and other places

Publications (200)

Article
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Nerve injury leads to chronic pain and exaggerated sensitivity to gentle touch (allodynia) as well as a loss of sensation in the areas in which injured and non-injured nerves come together 1–3 . The mechanisms that disambiguate these mixed and paradoxical symptoms are unknown. Here we longitudinally and non-invasively imaged genetically labelled po...
Article
Specialized cutaneous Schwann cells (SCs), termed nociceptive SCs, were recently discovered. Their function is not fully understood, but they are believed not only to support peripheral axons in mouse skin by forming a mesh-like neural-glio networking structure in subepidermal area, but also contributing to transduction of mechanical sensation and...
Article
Brain circuits involved in pain chronicity shift from areas involved in nociceptive processing to those associated with emotional and motivational processes. They overlap with circuits relevant for anxiety, fear and depression and are characterized by deficient prefrontal control mechanisms. Noninvasive brain stimulation techniques such as repetiti...
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Persistent pain is sustained by maladaptive changes in gene transcription resulting in altered function of the relevant circuits; therapies are still unsatisfactory. The epigenetic mechanisms and affected genes linking nociceptive activity to transcriptional changes and pathological sensitivity are unclear. Here, we found that, among several histon...
Article
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Postsynaptic NMDARs at spinal synapses are required for postsynaptic long-term potentiation and chronic pain. However, how presynaptic NMDARs (PreNMDARs) in spinal nociceptor terminals control presynaptic plasticity and pain hypersensitivity has remained unclear. Here we report that PreNMDARs in spinal nociceptor terminals modulate synaptic transmi...
Preprint
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The basal nucleus of Meynert (NBM) subserves critically important functions in attention, arousal and cognition via its profound modulation of neocortical activity and is emerging as a key target in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's dementias. Despite the crucial role of neocortical domains in pain perception, however, the NBM has not been studied in chr...
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Aims/hypothesis The individual risk of progression of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is difficult to predict for each individual. Mutations in proteins that are responsible for the process of myelination are known to cause neurodegeneration and display alteration in experimental models of diabetic neuropathy. In a prospective observational human pi...
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Maladaptive adult neurogenesis in the mammalian brain has been associated with diverse behaviors including disrupted learning, negative mood disorders and psychiatric conditions. However, its functional role in the generation and maintenance of chronic pathological pain has not yet been elucidated. Using an inducible genetic deletion in vivo mouse...
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In mammals, most adult neural stem cells (NSCs) are located in the ventricular–subventricular zone (V-SVZ) along the wall of the lateral ventricles and they are the source of olfactory bulb interneurons. Adult NSCs exhibit an apico-basal polarity; they harbor a short apical process and a long basal process, reminiscent of radial glia morphology. In...
Article
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Plexin-B2 deletion leads to aberrant lamination of cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) and Purkinje cells. Although in the cerebellum Plexin-B2 is only expressed by proliferating CGN precursors in the outer external granule layer (oEGL), its function in CGN development is still elusive. Here, we used 3D imaging, in vivo electroporation and live-imagi...
Article
Pain is a complex perceptual phenomenon. Coordinated activity among local and distant brain networks is a central element of the neural underpinnings of pain. Brain oscillatory rhythms across diverse frequency ranges provide a functional substrate for coordinating activity across local neuronal ensembles and anatomically distant brain areas in pain...
Article
The sensory, associative and limbic neocortical structures play a critical role in shaping incoming noxious inputs to generate variable pain perceptions. Technological advances in tracing circuitry and interrogation of pathways and complex behaviours are now yielding critical knowledge of neocortical circuits, cellular contributions and causal rela...
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Transcranial, minimally-invasive stimulation of the primary motor cortex (M1) has recently emerged to show promise in treating clinically refractory neuropathic pain. However, there is a major need for improving efficacy, reducing variability and understanding mechanisms. Rodent models hold promise in helping to overcome these obstacles. However, t...
Article
How genetic loss of the sodium channel NaV1.7 results in painlessness is puzzling. MacDonald et al. (2021) demonstrate that instead of impairing peripheral excitability, NaV1.7 channels at central terminals of pain-sensing afferents play a pivotal role in the balance between pain and analgesia.
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Aberrant fear is a cornerstone of several psychiatric disorders. Consequently, there is large interest in elucidation of signaling mechanisms that link extracellular cues to changes in neuronal function and structure in brain pathways that are important in the generation and maintenance of fear memory and its behavioral expression. Members of the P...
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A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21406-x
Article
Chronic neuropathic pain presents a major challenge to pharmacological therapy and neurostimulation-based alternatives are gaining interest. Although invasive and non-invasive motor cortex stimulation has been the focus of several studies, very little is known about the potential of targeting the prefrontal cortex. This study was designed to elucid...
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Painful neuropathy is a frequent complication in diabetes. Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) is an endogenous opioid precursor peptide, which plays a protective role against pain. Here, we report dysfunctional POMC-mediated antinociception in sensory neurons in diabetes. In streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice the Pomc promoter is repressed due to increas...
Article
Diabetes is a leading cause of peripheral neuropathy (diabetic peripheral neuropathy, DPN), and uncontrolled long-lasting hyperglycemia leads to severe complications. A major proportion of diabetics develop excruciating pain with a variable course. Mechanisms leading to painful DPN are not completely understood and treatment options limited. We hyp...
Research
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Recent advances in cancer neuroscience necessitate the systematic analysis of neural influences in cancer as potential therapeutic targets in oncology. Here we outline recommendations for future preclinical and translational research in this field.
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Recent advances in cancer neuroscience necessitate the systematic analysis of neural influences in cancer as potential therapeutic targets in oncology. Here we outline recommendations for future preclinical and translational research in this field.
Article
Wnt signaling represents a highly versatile signaling system, which plays critical roles in developmental morphogenesis as well as synaptic physiology in adult life and is implicated in a variety of neural disorders. Recently, we demonstrated that Wnt3a is able to recruit multiple non-canonical signaling pathways to alter peripheral sensory neuron...
Article
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is a highly frequent and debilitating clinical complication of diabetes that lacks therapies. Cellular oxidative stress regulates post-translational modifications, including SUMOylation. Here, using unbiased screens, we identified key enzymes in metabolic pathways and ion channels as novel molecular targets of S...
Article
Neuropathic pain caused by a lesion or disease of the somatosensory nervous system is a common chronic pain condition with major impact on quality of life. Examples include trigeminal neuralgia, painful polyneuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia and central poststroke pain. Most patients complain of an ongoing or intermittent spontaneous pain of e.g. b...
Article
Chronic, pathological pain remains a global health problem and a challenge to basic and clinical sciences. A major obstacle to preventing, treating or reverting chronic pain has been that the nature of neural circuits underlying the diverse components of the complex, multidimensional experience of pain is not well understood. Moreover, chronic pain...
Article
Neuro-glial activation is a recently identified hallmark of growing cancers. Targeting tumor hyperinnervation in preclinical and small clinical trials has yielded promising antitumor effects, highlighting the need of systematic analysis of neural influences in cancer (NIC). Here, we outline the strategies translating these findings from bench to th...
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In light of the limited treatment options of diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN) available, suitable animal models are essential to investigate pathophysiological mechanisms and to identify potential therapeutic targets. In vivo evaluation with current techniques, however, often provides only restricted information about disease evolution. In the study o...
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Background & Aims Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is frequently accompanied by excruciating pain, which has been associated with attraction of cancer cells and their invasion of intrapancreatic sensory nerves. Neutralization of the chemokine CCL2 reduced cancer-associated pain in a clinical trial, but there have been no systematic analyses...
Article
Chronic pain is associated with anxio-depressive comorbidities, but the neuroanatomical substrates remain unknown. A specific serotonergic pathway from the dorsal raphe nucleus to the lateral habenula via the central amygdala is now uncovered as a key neural circuit governing comorbid depressive symptoms in chronic pain.
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Diabetic-induced peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is a diabetic late complication. The molecular mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of nerve damage & sensory loss remain largely unclear. Recently, alterations in metabolic flux have gained attention a basis for organ damage in diabetes; however, peripheral sensory neurons have not been adequately...
Article
Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a major global health concern, affecting more than 9% of the world population. The most common complication of DM is diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), which leads to neuropathic pain in as many as 50% of patients. Despite its prevalence, there is neither good prevention of nor treatments for DPN, representing a major g...
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In humans, gamma-band oscillations in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) correlate with subjective pain perception. However, functional contributions to pain and the nature of underlying circuits are unclear. Here we report that gamma oscillations, but not other rhythms, are specifically strengthened independently of any motor component in the S...
Article
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Chronic pain is a pathological manifestation of neuronal plasticity supported by altered gene transcription in spinal cord neurons that results in long-lasting hypersensitivity. Recently, the concept that epigenetic regulators might be important in pathological pain has emerged, but a clear understanding of the molecular players involved in the pro...
Article
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Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is one of the most common diabetic complications. Mechanisms underlying nerve damage and sensory loss following metabolic dysfunction remain largely unclear. Recently, hyperglycemia-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) have gained attention as possible mechanisms...
Article
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Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is a major debilitating late complication of diabetes, which significantly reduces the quality of life in patients. DPN is associated with a wide spectrum of sensory abnormalities, where in loss of sensation or hypoalgesia to applied external stimuli is paradoxically accompanied by debilitating tonic spontaneous...
Article
With the current unmet demand for effective analgesics and the opioid crisis, pain relief without major central adverse effects is highly appealing. In this issue of Neuron, Snyder et al. (2018) report on the localization, functions, and therapeutic potential of kappa opioid receptors in peripheral sensory neurons.
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Semaphorins and their transmembrane receptors, Plexins, are key regulators of axon guidance and development of neuronal connectivity. B-type Plexins respond to Class IV semaphorins and mediate a variety of developmental functions. Here we report that the expression of Plexin-B2 and its high-affinity ligand, Sema4C, persists in peripheral sensory ne...
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The identity of cortical circuits mediating nociception and pain is largely unclear. The cingulate cortex is consistently activated during pain, but the functional specificity of cingulate divisions, the roles at distinct temporal phases of central plasticity and the underlying circuitry are unknown. Here we show in mice that the midcingulate divis...
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In addition to being a key component of the autonomic nervous system, acetylcholine acts as a prominent neurotransmitter and neuromodulator upon release from key groups of cholinergic projection neurons and interneurons distributed across the central nervous system. It has been more than forty years since it was discovered that cholinergic transmis...
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A 62-year-old diabetologist diagnosed himself to have diabetes type-2, with an HbA1c of 9.5. Five months after lifestyle intervention and a multi-drug approach, HbA1c was 6.3, systolic blood pressure was below 135 mmHg and BMI reduced to 27. But he suffered from severe painful diabetic neuropathy. Therefore he decided to visit his friend, a famous...
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Neuropathic pain is an integral component of several chronic pain conditions and poses a major health problem worldwide. Despite emerging understanding of mechanisms behind neuropathic pain, the available treatment options are still limited in efficacy or associated with side effects, therefore making it necessary to find viable alternatives. In a...
Article
The checkpoint pathway consisting of programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) and its receptor, PD-1, modulates immune function in cancer and infection, but unexpectedly, it also silences pain signals in nerves.
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Pathophysiological mechanisms underlying pain associated with cancer are poorly understood. microRNAs are a class of non-coding RNAs with emerging functional importance in chronic pain. In a genome-wide screen for microRNAs regulated in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons in a mouse model of bone metastatic pain, we identified miR-34c-5p as a functio...
Article
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) continues to be one of the deadliest human malignancies and is associated with excruciating pain, which is a serious complication and severely impacts the quality of life in patients. In human patients, poor survival prognosis is linked to remarkable remodeling of intrapancreatic nerves, which, in turn, is co...
Article
Chronic pain is a major health problem and a challenge to clinical practice and basic science. Various avenues in the somatosensory nociceptive pathway undergo extensive plasticity in pathological disease states. Disease-induced plasticity spans various levels of complexity, ranging from individual molecules, synapses, cellular function and network...
Article
Zusammenfassung Chronischer Schmerz stellt eine große Herausforderung für die Medizin und die Grundlagenforschung dar. Periphere und zentrale nozizeptive Netzwerke zeigen eine erhebliche Plastizität bei pathologischen Krankheitsbildern. Krankheitsbedingte Plastizität kann sowohl auf struktureller als auch auf funktioneller Ebene stattfinden. Diese...
Article
Chronic pain is not simply a temporal continuum of acute pain. Studies on functional plasticity in neural circuits of pain have provided mechanistic insights and linked various modulatory factors to a change in perception and behaviour. However, plasticity also occurs in the context of structural remodelling and reorganisation of synapses, cells an...
Article
Chronic pain is not simply a temporal continuum of acute pain. Studies on functional plasticity in neural circuits of pain have provided mechanistic insights and linked various modulatory factors to a change in perception and behaviour. However, plasticity also occurs in the context of structural remodelling and reorganisation of synapses, cells an...
Article
The skin is equipped with specialized mechanoreceptors that allow the perception of the slightest brush. Indeed, some mechanoreceptors can detect even nanometer-scale movements. Movement is transformed into electrical signals via the gating of mechanically activated ion channels at sensory endings in the skin. The sensitivity of Piezo mechanically...
Article
The skin is equipped with specialized mechanoreceptors that allow the perception of the slightest brush. Indeed, some mechanoreceptors can detect even nanometer-scale movements. Movement is transformed into electrical signals via the gating of mechanically activated ion channels at sensory endings in the skin. The sensitivity of Piezo mechanically...
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Most preclinical pain models rely on short-duration stimulus-evoked hind paw measurements even though chronic pain is usually a day and night experience. Pain is a debilitating condition that influences the sociability and the ability for voluntary tasks, but the relevant behavioral readouts for these aspects are mostly underrepresented in the lite...
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Background There is an urgent need to develop and incorporate novel behavioral tests in classically used preclinical pain models. Most rodent studies are based upon stimulus-evoked hindpaw measurements even though chronic pain is usually a day and night experience. Chronic pain is indeed a debilitating condition that influences the sociability and...
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Proprioceptors are responsible for the conscious sensation of limb position and movement, muscle tension or force, and balance. Recent evidence suggests that Piezo2 is a low threshold mechanosensory receptor in the peripheral nervous system, acting as a transducer for touch sensation and proprioception. Thus, we characterized proprioceptive neurons...
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Background Stroke patients often suffer from a central neuropathic pain syndrome called central post-stroke pain. This syndrome is characterized by evoked pain hypersensitivity as well as spontaneous, on-going pain in the body area affected by the stroke. Clinical evidence strongly suggests a dysfunction in central pain pathways as an important pat...
Article
Oxytocin (OT) is a neuropeptide elaborated by the hypothalamic paraventricular (PVN) and supraoptic (SON) nuclei. Magnocellular OT neurons of these nuclei innervate numerous forebrain regions and release OT into the blood from the posterior pituitary. The PVN also harbors parvocellular OT cells that project to the brainstem and spinal cord, but the...
Article
Below-level central neuropathic pain (CNP) affects a large proportion of spinal cord injured individuals. To better define the dynamic changes of the spinal cord neural network contributing to the development of CNP after spinal cord injury (SCI), we characterized the morphological and behavioral correlates of CNP in female C57BL/6 mice following a...