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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 17;107(33):14851-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1009926107. Epub 2010 Aug 2.

NADPH oxidase 2-derived reactive oxygen species in spinal cord microglia contribute to peripheral nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain.

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Program in Neuroscience, Dental Research Institute, and Brain Korea21, School of Dentistry, Seoul National University, Seoul 110-749, Republic of Korea.


Increasing evidence supports the notion that spinal cord microglia activation plays a causal role in the development of neuropathic pain after peripheral nerve injury; yet the mechanisms for microglia activation remain elusive. Here, we provide evidence that NADPH oxidase 2 (Nox2)-derived ROS production plays a critical role in nerve injury-induced spinal cord microglia activation and subsequent pain hypersensitivity. Nox2 expression was induced in dorsal horn microglia immediately after L5 spinal nerve transection (SNT). Studies using Nox2-deficient mice show that Nox2 is required for SNT-induced ROS generation, microglia activation, and proinflammatory cytokine expression in the spinal cord. SNT-induced mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia were similarly attenuated in Nox2-deficient mice. In addition, reducing microglial ROS level via intrathecal sulforaphane administration attenuated mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia in SNT-injured mice. Sulforaphane also inhibited SNT-induced proinflammatory gene expression in microglia, and studies using primary microglia indicate that ROS generation is required for proinflammatory gene expression in microglia. These studies delineate a pathway involving nerve damage leading to microglial Nox2-generated ROS, resulting in the expression of proinflammatory cytokines that are involved in the initiation of neuropathic pain.

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