Brain-derived neurotrophic factor modulates antiretroviral-induced mechanical allodynia in the mouse

Cynthia L. Renn, Carmen C. Leitch, Sherrie Lessans, Peter Rhee, W. Cameron Mcguire, Barbara A. Smith, Richard J. Traub, Susan G. Dorsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) are key components of HIV/AIDS treatment to reduce viral load. However, these drugs can induce chronic neuropathic pain, leading to increased morbidity in HIV patients. This study examines the role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the spinal dorsal horn (SDH) in development of mechanical allodynia in male C57BL/6J mice treated with the NRTI stavudine (d4T). After d4T administration, mice developed increased neuronal activity and BDNF expression in the SDH and hind paw mechanical allodynia that was exacerbated by intrathecal BDNF administration. Intrathecal BDNF alone also increased neuronal activity and caused mechanical allodynia. Because excess BDNF amplified d4T-induced mechanical allodynia and neuronal activity, the impact of decreasing BDNF in the SDH was investigated. After d4T, BDNF heterozygous mice were less allodynic than wild-type littermates, which was negated by intrathecal BDNF administration. Finally, pretreatment with intrathecal trkB-Fc chimera prior to d4T or administration of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor K252a 3 days after d4T blocked BDNF-mediated signaling, significantly attenuated the development of mechanical allodynia (trkB-Fc), and decreased neuronal activity (trkB-Fc and K252a). Taken together, these findings provide evidence that BDNF in the SDH contributes to the development of NRTI-induced painful peripheral neuropathy and may represent a new therapeutic opportunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1551-1565
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of neuroscience research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Antiretroviral
  • BDNF heterozygote
  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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