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      Etiology and Pharmacology of Neuropathic Pain

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      Pharmacological Reviews

      American Society for Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)

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          Abstract

          Injury to or disease of the nervous system can invoke chronic and sometimes intractable neuropathic pain. Many parallel, interdependent, and time-dependent processes, including neuroimmune interactions at the peripheral, supraspinal, and spinal levels, contribute to the etiology of this "disease of pain." Recent work emphasizes the roles of colony-stimulating factor 1, ATP, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Excitatory processes are enhanced, and inhibitory processes are attenuated in the spinal dorsal horn and throughout the somatosensory system. This leads to central sensitization and aberrant processing such that tactile and innocuous thermal information is perceived as pain (allodynia). Processes involved in the onset of neuropathic pain differ from those involved in its long-term maintenance. Opioids display limited effectiveness, and less than 35% of patients derive meaningful benefit from other therapeutic approaches. We thus review promising therapeutic targets that have emerged over the last 20 years, including Na+, K+, Ca2+, hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channels, transient receptor potential channel type V1 channels, and adenosine A3 receptors. Despite this progress, the gabapentinoids retain their status as first-line treatments, yet their mechanism of action is poorly understood. We outline recent progress in understanding the etiology of neuropathic pain and show how this has provided insights into the cellular actions of pregabalin and gabapentin. Interactions of gabapentinoids with the α2δ-1 subunit of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels produce multiple and neuron type-specific actions in spinal cord and higher centers. We suggest that drugs that affect multiple processes, rather than a single specific target, show the greatest promise for future therapeutic development.

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          Most cited references 381

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          Descending control of pain.

           Mark J Millan (2002)
          Upon receipt in the dorsal horn (DH) of the spinal cord, nociceptive (pain-signalling) information from the viscera, skin and other organs is subject to extensive processing by a diversity of mechanisms, certain of which enhance, and certain of which inhibit, its transfer to higher centres. In this regard, a network of descending pathways projecting from cerebral structures to the DH plays a complex and crucial role. Specific centrifugal pathways either suppress (descending inhibition) or potentiate (descending facilitation) passage of nociceptive messages to the brain. Engagement of descending inhibition by the opioid analgesic, morphine, fulfils an important role in its pain-relieving properties, while induction of analgesia by the adrenergic agonist, clonidine, reflects actions at alpha(2)-adrenoceptors (alpha(2)-ARs) in the DH normally recruited by descending pathways. However, opioids and adrenergic agents exploit but a tiny fraction of the vast panoply of mechanisms now known to be involved in the induction and/or expression of descending controls. For example, no drug interfering with descending facilitation is currently available for clinical use. The present review focuses on: (1) the organisation of descending pathways and their pathophysiological significance; (2) the role of individual transmitters and specific receptor types in the modulation and expression of mechanisms of descending inhibition and facilitation and (3) the advantages and limitations of established and innovative analgesic strategies which act by manipulation of descending controls. Knowledge of descending pathways has increased exponentially in recent years, so this is an opportune moment to survey their operation and therapeutic relevance to the improved management of pain.
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            Different immune cells mediate mechanical pain hypersensitivity in male and female mice.

            A large and rapidly increasing body of evidence indicates that microglia-to-neuron signaling is essential for chronic pain hypersensitivity. Using multiple approaches, we found that microglia are not required for mechanical pain hypersensitivity in female mice; female mice achieved similar levels of pain hypersensitivity using adaptive immune cells, likely T lymphocytes. This sexual dimorphism suggests that male mice cannot be used as proxies for females in pain research.
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              Central sensitization and LTP: do pain and memory share similar mechanisms?

              Synaptic plasticity is fundamental to many neurobiological functions, including memory and pain. Central sensitization refers to the increased synaptic efficacy established in somatosensory neurons in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord following intense peripheral noxious stimuli, tissue injury or nerve damage. This heightened synaptic transmission leads to a reduction in pain threshold, an amplification of pain responses and a spread of pain sensitivity to non-injured areas. In the cortex, LTP - a long-lasting highly localized increase in synaptic strength - is a synaptic substrate for memory and learning. Analysis of the molecular mechanisms underlying the generation and maintenance of central sensitization and LTP indicates that, although there are differences between the synaptic plasticity contributing to memory and pain, there are also striking similarities.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Pharmacological Reviews
                Pharmacol Rev
                American Society for Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)
                0031-6997
                1521-0081
                March 07 2018
                April 2018
                March 02 2018
                April 2018
                : 70
                : 2
                : 315-347
                Article
                10.1124/pr.117.014399
                29500312
                © 2018

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