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Neurosci Bull. 2014 Feb;30(1):53-66. doi: 10.1007/s12264-013-1387-y. Epub 2013 Nov 5.

Extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase activation in spinal cord contributes to pain hypersensitivity in a mouse model of type 2 diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology, Wuxi People's Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Wuxi, 214023, China.

Abstract

Painful peripheral neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes mellitus. The symptom of pain can become a major factor that decreases the quality of life of patients with diabetes, while effective treatment is lacking. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the changes of pain threshold in the early stage of diabetes in db/db mice, an animal model of type 2 diabetes mellitus, and the underlying molecular mechanisms. We found that (1) db/db mice (with a leptin receptor-null mutation and characterized by obesity and hyperglycemia) showed hypersensitivity to mechanical and thermal stimuli at the early stage of diabetes; (2) phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (pERK), but not total ERK in the spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia in db/db mice significantly increased compared with wild-type mice. The increased pERK immunoreactivity occurred in both NeuN-expressing neurons and GFAP-expressing astrocytes, but not in Iba-1-expressing microglia; (3) both single and consecutive (for 5 days) intrathecal injections of U0126 (2 nmol per day), a selective MEK (an ERK kinase) inhibitor beginning at 8 weeks of age, attenuated the bilateral mechanical allodynia in the von-Frey test and heat hyperalgesia in Hargreave's test; and (4) db/db mice also displayed increased nocifensive behavior during the formalin test, and this was blocked by intrathecal injection of U0126. Also, the expression of pERK1 and pERK2 was upregulated following the formalin injection. Our results suggested that the activation of ERK in spinal neurons and astrocytes is correlated with pain hypersensitivity of the type 2 diabetes animal model. Inhibiting the ERK pathway may provide a new therapy for pain control in type 2 diabetes.

PMID:
24194231
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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