Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Curr Biol. 2011 Sep 27;21(18):1525-33. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.08.020. Epub 2011 Sep 8.

Hedgehog signaling regulates nociceptive sensitization.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.



Nociceptive sensitization is a tissue damage response whereby sensory neurons near damaged tissue enhance their responsiveness to external stimuli. This sensitization manifests as allodynia (aversive withdrawal to previously nonnoxious stimuli) and/or hyperalgesia (exaggerated responsiveness to noxious stimuli). Although some factors mediating nociceptive sensitization are known, inadequacies of current analgesic drugs have prompted a search for additional targets.


Here we use a Drosophila model of thermal nociceptive sensitization to show that Hedgehog (Hh) signaling is required for both thermal allodynia and hyperalgesia following ultraviolet irradiation (UV)-induced tissue damage. Sensitization does not appear to result from developmental changes in the differentiation or arborization of nociceptive sensory neurons. Genetic analysis shows that Hh signaling acts in parallel to tumor necrosis factor (TNF) signaling to mediate allodynia and that distinct transient receptor potential (TRP) channels mediate allodynia and hyperalgesia downstream of these pathways. We also demonstrate a role for Hh in analgesic signaling in mammals. Intrathecal or peripheral administration of cyclopamine (CP), a specific inhibitor of Sonic Hedgehog signaling, blocked the development of analgesic tolerance to morphine (MS) or morphine antinociception in standard assays of inflammatory pain in rats and synergistically augmented and sustained morphine analgesia in assays of neuropathic pain.


We demonstrate a novel physiological role for Hh signaling, which has not previously been implicated in nociception. Our results also identify new potential therapeutic targets for pain treatment.

Comment in

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center