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Anesthesiology. 2012 Sep;117(3):626-38. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e31826571aa.

miR-203 regulates nociceptive sensitization after incision by controlling phospholipase A2 activating protein expression.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.



After incision keratinocytes in the epidermis become activated to produce a range of pain-related mediators. microRNA 203 (miR-203) is known to be involved in keratinocyte growth, differentiation, and skin inflammation. We hypothesized that one or more of these mediators might be under the control of miR-203.


The expression of miR-203 and its target gene, phospholipase A2 activating protein (PLAA), were examined after hind paw incision in mice. We investigated the local effect of intraplantar PLAA peptide injection in normal mice and the effects of a selective secretory phospholipase A2 inhibitor (HK064) on PLAA or incision-induced mechanical allodynia. Last, we investigated the role of substance P signaling in regulating miR-203 and PLAA expression in vitro and in vivo.


Levels of miR-203 were strongly down-regulated in keratinocytes after incision. Informatics-based approaches identified PLAA as a likely candidate for regulation by miR-203. PLAA caused mechanical allodynia and conditioned place aversion but not thermal sensitization. HK064 reduced mechanical allodynia after incision and after intraplantar injection of PLAA. Using preprotachykinin gene knockout mice or with neurokinin-1 selective antagonist LY303870 treatment, we observed that substance P-mediated signaling was also required for miR-203 and PLAA regulation after incision. Finally, using the rat epidermal keratinocyte cell line, we observed that a miR-203 mimic molecule could block the substance P-induced increase in PLAA expression observed under control conditions.


miR-203 may regulate expression of the novel nociceptive mediator PLAA after incision. Furthermore, the regulation of miR-203 and PLAA levels is reliant upon intact substance P signaling.

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