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Nat Neurosci. 2011 Jul 3;14(8):1017-22. doi: 10.1038/nn.2844.

Zinc alleviates pain through high-affinity binding to the NMDA receptor NR2A subunit.

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1
Institut de Génétique et Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Illkirch, France.

Abstract

Zinc is abundant in the central nervous system and regulates pain, but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. In vitro studies have shown that extracellular zinc modulates a plethora of signaling membrane proteins, including NMDA receptors containing the NR2A subunit, which display exquisite zinc sensitivity. We created NR2A-H128S knock-in mice to investigate whether Zn2+-NR2A interaction influences pain control. In these mice, high-affinity (nanomolar) zinc inhibition of NMDA currents was lost in the hippocampus and spinal cord. Knock-in mice showed hypersensitivity to radiant heat and capsaicin, and developed enhanced allodynia in inflammatory and neuropathic pain models. Furthermore, zinc-induced analgesia was completely abolished under both acute and chronic pain conditions. Our data establish that zinc is an endogenous modulator of excitatory neurotransmission in vivo and identify a new mechanism in pain processing that relies on NR2A NMDA receptors. The study also potentially provides a molecular basis for the pain-relieving effects of dietary zinc supplementation.

PMID:
21725314
PMCID:
PMC4494785
DOI:
10.1038/nn.2844
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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