Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers identify key protein involved in neuropathic pain

15.12.2005


A team of researchers led by Université Laval and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has discovered a protein that plays a major role in neuropathic pain. This discovery, published in the December 16 issue of Nature, paves the way for the development of new diagnostics and treatments for chronic pain.

Neuropathic pain is a common and severely disabling state that affects millions of people worldwide. Many people suffering from neuropathic pain appear normal, but are in agony experiencing lightning-like pain known as allodynia.

This type of pain can alter perception to a point where previously innocuous or even pleasurable stimuli applied to the skin or tissues become extremely painful. It may be experienced after nerve injury or from diseases that affect peripheral nerve function such as diabetes, shingles, or cancer.



After a peripheral nerve injury there is a biophysical change in spinal cord cells called microglia. Microglia are typically considered to be immune cells in the nervous system, but have now been proven to be involved in neuropathic pain.

"We knew that microglia had to communicate with nerve cells in the pain-processing network in the spinal cord. However the mechanism for this communication was not known," said Dr. Michael Salter, co-principal investigator, senior scientist at SickKids, professor of Physiology at the University of Toronto (U of T), and director of the U of T Centre for the Study of Pain. "We discovered that the microglia talk to the nerves cells by releasing Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF)."

When BDNF was injected into the spinal cords of normal mice it resulted in allodynia. When the team made manipulations to block or intercept BDNF signaling from the microglia the in nerve-injured mice the allodynia was reversed.

"We established that the microglia cause chloride ions to increase inside the nerve cells and that BDNF is the mystery mediator," said Dr. Yves De Koninck, co-principal investigator, professor, Department of Psychiatry, Université Laval and director of the Division of Cellular Neurobiology at the Centre de recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard. "Thus, not only did we discover that BDNF is the chemical mediator, but we also determined how BDNF works."

By a still unknown mechanism, nerve injury results in activation of P2X4 receptors on the microglia, which causes the release of BDNF. BDNF then disrupts inhibition in the spinal cord, which causes spinal relay neurons to send an abnormal signal to pain-processing neural networks in the brain, ultimately causing the experience of aberrant pain.

The research team hopes that this new information on neuropathic pain can be applied to diagnostics. "Effective pain diagnosis is nearly as big a challenge as developing effective pain therapeutics," added Dr. Salter, also Canada Research Chair in Neuroplasticity and Pain. "The gold standard for diagnosing neuropathic pain is history and physical examination. But many people want objective proof that something is pathophysiologically different. We are hoping to develop a probe that can measure the response of microglia in people with peripheral nerve injury."

The team is also looking for ways to devise new kinds of therapeutics, as there is not presently any effective treatment for neuropathic pain.

"This is an important discovery for the millions of Canadians who suffer from debilitating chronic pain that cannot currently be treated. The cost to society is equally devastating and is estimated in the billions of dollars annually," said the Honourable Michael H. Wilson, chair of NeuroScience Canada, one of the funders of this research through the Brain Repair Program, which includes $1.5 million to the team led by Dr. Michael Salter. NeuroScience Canada’s funding partners on the team grant led by Dr. Salter include the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation.

"With the work of Drs. Salter and De Koninck, we can now focus the research on developing drugs that will target the class of cells responsible for chronic pain. This represents an important shift that could soon provide patients with effective treatments and allow them to be active again in our society," added Mr. Wilson.

Chelsea Gay | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sickkids.ca
http://www.utoronto.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>