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J Neurosci. 2018 Jan 10;38(2):308-321. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2695-17.2017. Epub 2017 Nov 24.

CD44 Signaling Mediates High Molecular Weight Hyaluronan-Induced Antihyperalgesia.

Author information

1
Departments of Medicine and Oral Surgery, and Division of Neuroscience, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143.
2
Departments of Medicine and Oral Surgery, and Division of Neuroscience, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143 jon.levine@ucsf.edu.

Abstract

We studied, in male Sprague Dawley rats, the role of the cognate hyaluronan receptor, CD44 signaling in the antihyperalgesia induced by high molecular weight hyaluronan (HMWH). Low molecular weight hyaluronan (LMWH) acts at both peptidergic and nonpeptidergic nociceptors to induce mechanical hyperalgesia that is prevented by intrathecal oligodeoxynucleotide antisense to CD44 mRNA, which also prevents hyperalgesia induced by a CD44 receptor agonist, A6. Ongoing LMWH and A6 hyperalgesia are reversed by HMWH. HMWH also reverses the hyperalgesia induced by diverse pronociceptive mediators, prostaglandin E2, epinephrine, TNFα, and interleukin-6, and the neuropathic pain induced by the cancer chemotherapy paclitaxel. Although CD44 antisense has no effect on the hyperalgesia induced by inflammatory mediators or paclitaxel, it eliminates the antihyperalgesic effect of HMWH. HMWH also reverses the hyperalgesia induced by activation of intracellular second messengers, PKA and PKCε, indicating that HMWH-induced antihyperalgesia, although dependent on CD44, is mediated by an intracellular signaling pathway rather than as a competitive receptor antagonist. Sensitization of cultured small-diameter DRG neurons by prostaglandin E2 is also prevented and reversed by HMWH. These results demonstrate the central role of CD44 signaling in HMWH-induced antihyperalgesia, and establish it as a therapeutic target against inflammatory and neuropathic pain.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT We demonstrate that hyaluronan (HA) with different molecular weights produces opposing nociceptive effects. While low molecular weight HA increases sensitivity to mechanical stimulation, high molecular weight HA reduces sensitization, attenuating inflammatory and neuropathic hyperalgesia. Both pronociceptive and antinociceptive effects of HA are mediated by activation of signaling pathways downstream CD44, the cognate HA receptor, in nociceptors. These results contribute to our understanding of the role of the extracellular matrix in pain, and indicate CD44 as a potential therapeutic target to alleviate inflammatory and neuropathic pain.

KEYWORDS:

CD44; extracellular matrix; hyaluronan; hyperalgesia; nociceptor

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