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Front Mol Neurosci. 2017 Jul 11;10:219. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2017.00219. eCollection 2017.

Differential Impact of miR-21 on Pain and Associated Affective and Cognitive Behavior after Spared Nerve Injury in B7-H1 ko Mouse.

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1
Department of Neurology, University of WürzburgWürzburg, Germany.

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are increasingly recognized as regulators of immune and neuronal gene expression and are potential master switches in neuropathic pain pathophysiology. miR-21 is a promising candidate that may link the immune and the pain system. To investigate the pathophysiological role of miR-21 in neuropathic pain, we assessed mice deficient of B7 homolog 1 (B7-H1), a major inhibitor of inflammatory responses. In previous studies, an upregulation of miR-21 had been shown in mouse lymphocytes. Young (8 weeks), middle-aged (6 months), and old (12 months) B7-H1 ko mice and wildtype littermates (WT) received a spared nerve injury (SNI). We assessed thermal withdrawal latencies and mechanical withdrawal thresholds. Further, we performed tests for anxiety-like and cognitive behavior. Quantitative real time PCR was used to determine miR-21 relative expression in peripheral nerves, and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) at distinct time points after SNI. We found mechanical hyposensitivity with increasing age of naïve B7-H1 ko mice. Young and middle-aged B7-H1 ko mice were more sensitive to mechanical stimuli compared to WT mice (young: p < 0.01, middle-aged: p < 0.05). Both genotypes developed mechanical and heat hypersensitivity (p < 0.05) after SNI, without intergroup differences. No relevant differences were found after SNI in three tests for anxiety like behavior in B7-H1 ko and WT mice. Also, SNI had no effect on cognition. B7-H1 ko and WT mice showed a higher miR-21 expression (p < 0.05) and invasion of macrophages and T cells in the injured nerve 7 days after SNI without intergroup differences. Our study reveals that increased miR-21 expression in peripheral nerves after SNI is associated with reduced mechanical and heat withdrawal thresholds. These results point to a role of miR-21 in the pathophysiology of neuropathic pain, while affective behavior and cognition seem to be spared. Contrary to expectations, B7-H1 ko mice did not show higher miR-21 expression than WT mice, thus, a B7-H1 knockout may be of limited relevance for the study of miR-21 related pain.

KEYWORDS:

B7-H1; PD-L1; SNI; immune system; miR-21; miRNA; neuropathic pain

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