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J Neurochem. 2008 Jan;104(1):254-63. Epub 2007 Oct 18.

Monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 functions as a neuromodulator in dorsal root ganglia neurons.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Biological Chemistry and Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.


It has previously been observed that expression of chemokine monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1/CC chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2)) and its receptor CC chemokine receptor 2 (CCR2) is up-regulated by dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in association with rodent models of neuropathic pain. MCP-1 increases the excitability of nociceptive neurons after a peripheral nerve injury, while disruption of MCP-1/CCR2 signaling blocks the development of neuropathic pain, suggesting MCP-1 signaling is responsible for heightened pain sensitivity. To define the mechanisms of MCP-1 signaling in DRG, we studied intracellular processing, release, and receptor-mediated signaling of MCP-1 in DRG neurons. We found that in a focal demyelination model of neuropathic pain both MCP-1 and CCR2 were up-regulated by the same neurons including transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor subtype 1 (TRPV1) expressing nociceptors. MCP-1 expressed by DRG neurons was packaged into large dense-core vesicles whose release could be induced from the soma by depolarization in a Ca2+-dependent manner. Activation of CCR2 by MCP-1 could sensitize nociceptors via transactivation of transient receptor potential channels. Our results suggest that MCP-1 and CCR2, up-regulated by sensory neurons following peripheral nerve injury, might participate in neural signal processing which contributes to sustained excitability of primary afferent neurons.

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