Painful peripheral neuropathy is a debilitating complication of the treatment of HIV with nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). Patients are living longer with these drugs; however many develop excruciating, unremitting, and often treatment-limiting neuropathy that is resistant to conventional pain management therapies. Improving patient comfort and quality of life is paramount and depends on a clearer understanding of this devastating side effect. The mechanisms underlying the development of NRTI-induced neuropathy, however, remain unclear. Using a mouse model of NRTI-induced neuropathy, the authors conducted an unbiased whole-genome microarray screen to identify molecular targets in the spinal dorsal horn, which is the location where integration of ascending sensory transmission and descending modulatory effects occur. Analysis of the microarray data identified a change in the gene giant axonal neuropathy 1 (Gan1). Mutation of this gene has been linked to the development of giant axonal neuropathy (GAN), a rare autosomal recessive condition characterized by a progressive sensorimotor neuropathy. Gan1 has not been previously linked to nerve pathologies in other populations. In this study, downregulation of the Gan1 gene and the gene protein product, gigaxonin, was validated via quantitative polymerase chain reaction ([qPCR] gene expression) and Western blot analyses (protein level). Our report is the first to suggest that Gan1 might be a novel molecular target in the development of NRTI-induced peripheral neuropathy with implications for new therapeutic approaches to preventing or reducing a significant side effect of HIV treatment.
- Chronic pain
- Giant axonal neuropathy
- Painful peripheral neuropathy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Research and Theory