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Overexpression of GDNF in the Uninjured DRG Exerts Analgesic Effects on Neuropathic Pain Following Segmental Spinal Nerve Ligation in Mice

      Abstract

      Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), a survival-promoting factor for a subset of nociceptive small-diameter neurons, has been shown to exert analgesic effects on neuropathic pain. However, its detailed mechanisms of action are still unknown. In the present study, we investigated the site-specific analgesic effects of GDNF in the neuropathic pain state using lentiviral vector-mediated GDNF overexpression in mice with left fifth lumbar (L5) spinal nerve ligation (SNL) as a neuropathic pain model. A lentiviral vector expressing both GDNF and enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) was constructed and injected into the left dorsal spinal cord, uninjured fourth lumbar (L4) dorsal root ganglion (DRG), injured L5 DRG, or plantar skin of mice. In SNL mice, injection of the GDNF-EGFP-expressing lentivirus into the dorsal spinal cord or uninjured L4 DRG partially but significantly reduced the mechanical allodynia in association with an increase in GDNF protein expression in each virus injection site, whereas injection into the injured L5 DRG or plantar skin had no effects. These results suggest that GDNF exerts its analgesic effects in the neuropathic pain state by acting on the central terminals of uninjured DRG neurons and/or on the spinal cells targeted by the uninjured DRG neurons.

      Perspective

      This article shows that GDNF exerts its analgesic effects on neuropathic pain by acting on the central terminals of uninjured DRG neurons and/or on the spinal cells targeted by these neurons. Therefore, research focusing on these GDNF-dependent neurons in the uninjured DRG would provide a new strategy for treating neuropathic pain.

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