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      α7 Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor-mediated anti-inflammatory effect in a chronic migraine rat model via the attenuation of glial cell activation

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          Evidence suggests that the activation of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7nAChR) can greatly decrease the neuroinflammation response. Neuroinflammation plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of chronic migraine (CM). Clinical observations also show that nicotine gum induces analgesic effects in migraine patients. However, whether α7nAChR is involved in CM is unclear.


          To investigate the role of α7nAChR in CM and provide a new therapeutic target for CM.

          Materials and methods

          Thirty-six male Sprague–Dawley rats were distributed randomly into control, CM, PNU-282987, and α-bungarotoxin groups (n=9 rats in each group). The CM model was established by the recurrent daily administration of inflammatory soup on the dura over the course of 1 week. The hind paw threshold and facial allodynia were assessed by the von Frey test. The expression levels of α7nAChR, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and interleukin-1 beta were analyzed by Western blot and real-time fluorescence quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The location of α7nAChR in the hippocampus was quantified by immunofluorescence, as well as the microglial and astrocyte alterations. Changes in the calcitonin gene-related peptide and the phosphorylated JNK protein among different groups were measured by Western blot.


          We found that the expression of α7nAChR was reduced after repeated inflammatory soup administration. The increased expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1 beta, and calcitonin gene-related peptide in CM group were significantly decreased by PNU-282987 and aggravated by α-bungarotoxin. Moreover, PNU-282987 decreased the numbers of astrocytes and microglia compared with the numbers in the CM group in both hippocampal CA1 and CA3 regions. In contrast, α-bungarotoxin activated the astrocytes and microglia, but the differences with respect to the CM group were not significant. Activated c-Jun N-terminal kinase signaling was observed in CM rats and was also blocked by PNU-282987.


          The activation of α7nAChR increased the mechanical threshold and alleviated pain in the CM rat model. α7nAChR activation also decreased the upregulation of astrocytes and microglia through the p-c-Jun N-terminal kinase–mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway.

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          Most cited references 70

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          Complete Freunds adjuvant-induced peripheral inflammation evokes glial activation and proinflammatory cytokine expression in the CNS.

          Peripheral inflammation induces central sensitization characterized by the development of allodynia and hyperalgesia to mechanical and thermal stimuli. Recent evidence suggests that activation of glial cells and a subsequent increase in proinflammatory cytokines contribute to the development of behavioral hypersensitivity after nerve injury or peripheral inflammation. In the present study, we examined mRNA and protein expression of glial markers and proinflammatory cytokines at the lumbar spinal cord, brainstem and forebrain following intraplantar administration of complete Freunds adjuvant (CFA) in rats. Gene expression studied by real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for microglial markers (Mac-1, TLR4 and CD14) showed a significant increase in their expression during all phases (acute, subacute and chronic) of inflammation. Conversely, up-regulation of astroglial markers [glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and S100B] was observed only at the subacute and chronic phases of inflammation. Increased immunoreactivity for OX-42 (CR3/CD11b) and GFAP at various brain regions was also observed after the acute and subacute phases of the inflammation, respectively. Quantification of proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1beta, IL-6 and TNF-alpha) at the mRNA (by real-time RT-PCR) and protein level (by ELISA) revealed enhanced expression during the acute, subacute and chronic phases of CFA-induced peripheral inflammation. This study demonstrates that CFA-induced peripheral inflammation induces robust glial activation and proinflammatory cytokines both spinally and supraspinally. In addition, similar to nerve injury-induced behavioral hypersensitivity microglial activation preceded astrocytic activation following CFA-induced peripheral inflammation, supporting a role of microglia in the initiation phase and astrocytes in maintaining hypersensitivity. These findings further support a unifying theory that glial activation and enhanced cytokine expression at the CNS have a role in eliciting behavioral hypersensitivity.
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            Safety, tolerability, and efficacy of TEV-48125 for preventive treatment of chronic migraine: a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2b study.

            Benefits of calcitonin-gene related peptide (CGRP) inhibition have not been established in chronic migraine. Here we assess the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of two doses of TEV-48125, a monoclonal anti-CGRP antibody, in the preventive treatment of chronic migraine.
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              Anti-inflammatory role of microglial alpha7 nAChRs and its role in neuroprotection.

              Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are widely distributed throughout the central nervous system, being expressed in neurons and non-neuronal cells, where they participate in a variety of physiological responses like memory, learning, locomotion, attention, among others. We will focus on the α7 nAChR subtype, which has been implicated in neuroprotection, synaptic plasticity and neuronal survival, and is considered as a potential therapeutic target for several neurological diseases. Oxidative stress and neuroinflammation are currently considered as two of the most important pathological mechanisms common in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer, Parkinson or Huntington diseases. In this review, we will first analysed the distribution and expression of nAChR in mammalian brain. Then, we focused on the function of the α7 nAChR subtype in neuronal and non-neuronal cells and its role in immune responses (cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway). Finally, we will revise the anti-inflammatory pathway promoted via α7 nAChR activation that is related to recruitment and activation of Jak2/STAT3 pathway, which on the one hand inhibits NF-κB nuclear translocation, and on the other hand, activates the master regulator of oxidative stress Nrf2/HO-1. This review provides a profound insight into the role of the α7 nAChR subtype in microglia and point out to microglial α7/HO-1 pathway as an anti-inflammatory therapeutic target.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                15 June 2018
                : 11
                : 1129-1140
                [1 ]Department of Neurology, The First Affiliated Hospital, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China
                [2 ]Laboratory Research Center, The First Affiliated Hospital, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Jiying Zhou, Department of Neurology, The First Affiliated Hospital, Chongqing Medical University, 1st You Yi Road, Yu Zhong District, Chongqing 400016, China, Email zheadache@ 123456163.com
                © 2018 Liu et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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