Suppression of spinal connexin 43 expression attenuates mechanical hypersensitivity in rats after an L5 spinal nerve injury

Qian Xu, Yong Kwan Cheong, Shao Qiu He, Vinod Tiwari, Jian Liu, Yun Wang, Srinivasa N. Raja, Jinheng Li, Yun Guan, Weiyan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Activation of spinal astrocytes may contribute to neuropathic pain. Adjacent astrocytes can make direct communication through gap junctions formed by connexin 43 (Cx43) in the central nervous system. Yet, the role of spinal astroglial gap junctions in neuropathic pain is not fully understood. Since Cx43 is the connexin isoform expressed preferentially in astrocytes in the spinal cord, we used a small interfering RNA (siRNA) approach to examine whether suppression of spinal Cx43 expression inhibits mechanical hypersensitivity in rats after an L5 spinal nerve ligation (SNL). SNL rats were administered intrathecal Cx43 siRNA (3. μg/15. μl, twice/day) or an equal amount of mismatch siRNA (control) on days 14-17 post-SNL. Cx43 siRNA, but not mismatch siRNA, alleviated mechanical hypersensitivity in SNL rats. Furthermore, Western blot analysis showed that the pain inhibition induced by Cx43 siRNA correlated with downregulation of Cx43 expression, but not that of Cx36 (the neuronal gap junction protein) or glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP, a marker for reactive astrocytes) in the spinal cord of SNL rats. Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry also showed that SNL increased GFAP expression, but decreased Cx43 expression, in spinal cord. Our results provide direct evidence that selective suppression of spinal Cx43 after nerve injury alleviates neuropathic mechanical hypersensitivity. These findings suggest that in the spinal cord, the enhanced function of astroglial gap junctions, especially those formed by Cx43, may be important to neuropathic pain in SNL rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-199
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Volume566
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 30 2014

Keywords

  • Connexin 43
  • Gap junction
  • Glia
  • Neuropathic pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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