Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Department of Pain Pharmacology, Krakow, Poland. Electronic address:
The complex neuroimmunological interactions mediated by chemokines are suggested to be responsible for the development of neuropathic pain. The lack of knowledge regarding the detailed pathomechanism of neuropathy is one reason for the lack of optimally efficient therapies. Recently, several lines of evidence indicated that expression of CCR2 is increased in spinal cord neurons and microglial cells after peripheral nerve injury. It was previously shown that administration of CCR2 antagonists induces analgesic effects; however, the role of CCR2 ligands in neuropathic pain still needs to be explained. Thus, the goal of our studies was to investigate the roles of CCL2, CCL7, and CCL12 in neuropathic pain development and opioid effectiveness. The experiments were conducted on primary glial cell cultures and two groups of mice: naive and neuropathic. We used chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve as a neuropathic pain model. Mice intrathecally received chemokines (CCL2, CCL7, CCL12) at a dose of 10, 100 or 500 ng, neutralizing antibodies (anti-CCL2, anti-CCL7) at a dose of 1, 4 or 8 μg, and opioids (morphine, buprenorphine) at a dose of 1 μg. The pain-related behaviors were assessed using the von Frey and cold plate tests. The biochemical analysis of mRNA expression of glial markers, CCL2, CCL7 and CCL12 was performed using quantitative reverse transcriptase real-time PCR. We demonstrated that CCI of the sciatic nerve elevated spinal expression of CCL2, CCL7 and CCL12 in mice, in parallel with microglia and astroglial activation markers. Moreover, intrathecal injection of CCL2 and CCL7 induced pain-related behavior in naive mice in a dose-dependent manner. Surprisingly, intrathecal injection of CCL12 did not influence nociceptive transmission in naive or neuropathic mice. Additionally, we showed for the first time that intrathecal injection of CCL2 and CCL7 neutralizing antibodies not only attenuated CCI-induced pain-related behaviors in mice but also augmented the analgesia induced by morphine and buprenorphine. In vitro studies suggest that both microglia and astrocytes are an important cellular sources of the examined chemokines. Our results revealed the crucial roles of CCL2 and CCL7, but not CCL12, in neuropathic pain development and indicated that pharmacological modulation of these factors may serve as a potential therapeutic target for new (co)analgesics.
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