BDNF produced by cerebral microglia promotes cortical plasticity and pain hypersensitivity after peripheral nerve injury
Peripheral nerve injury-induced mechanical allodynia is often accompanied by abnormalities in the higher cortical regions, yet the mechanisms underlying such maladaptive cortical plasticity remain unclear. Here, we show that in male mice, structural and functional changes in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) caused by peripheral nerve injury require neuron-microglial signaling within the local circuit. Following peripheral nerve injury, microglia in the S1 maintain ramified morphology and normal density but up-regulate the mRNA expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Using in vivo two-photon imaging and Cx3cr1CreER;Bdnfflox mice, we show that conditional knockout of BDNF from microglia prevents nerve injury-induced synaptic remodeling and pyramidal neuron hyperactivity in the S1, as well as pain hypersensitivity in mice. Importantly, S1-targeted removal of microglial BDNF largely recapitulates the beneficial effects of systemic BDNF depletion on cortical plasticity and allodynia. Together, these findings reveal a pivotal role of cerebral microglial BDNF in somatosensory cortical plasticity and pain hypersensitivity.
A prototype closed-loop brain-machine interface for the study and treatment of pain
Chronic pain is characterized by discrete pain episodes of unpredictable frequency and duration. This hinders the study of pain mechanisms and contributes to the use of pharmacological treatments associated with side effects, addiction and drug tolerance. Here, we show that a closed-loop brain-machine interface (BMI) can modulate sensory-affective experiences in real time in freely behaving rats by coupling neural codes for nociception directly with therapeutic cortical stimulation. The BMI decodes the onset of nociception via a state-space model on the basis of the analysis of online-sorted spikes recorded from the anterior cingulate cortex (which is critical for pain processing) and couples real-time pain detection with optogenetic activation of the prelimbic prefrontal cortex (which exerts top-down nociceptive regulation). In rats, the BMI effectively inhibited sensory and affective behaviours caused by acute mechanical or thermal pain, and by chronic inflammatory or neuropathic pain. The approach provides a blueprint for demand-based neuromodulation to treat sensory-affective disorders, and could be further leveraged for nociceptive control and to study pain mechanisms.
Relation between preoperative benzodiazepines and opioids on outcomes after total joint arthroplasty
To examine the association of preoperative opioids and/or benzodiazepines on postoperative outcomes in total knee and hip arthroplasty, we retrospectively compared postoperative outcomes in those prescribed preoperative opioids and/or benzodiazepines versus those who were not who underwent elective total knee and hip arthroplasty at a single urban academic institution. Multivariable logistic regression was performed for readmission rate, respiratory failure, infection, and adverse cardiac events. Multivariable zero-truncated negative binomial regression was used for length of stay. After exclusions, there were 4307 adult patients in the study population, 2009 of whom underwent total knee arthroplasty and 2298 of whom underwent total hip arthroplasty. After adjusting for potential confounders, preoperative benzodiazepine use was associated with increased odds of readmission (pâ€‰<â€‰0.01). Preoperative benzodiazepines were not associated with increased odds of respiratory failure nor increased length of stay. Preoperative opioids were not associated with increased odds of the examined outcomes. There were insufficient numbers of infection and cardiac events for analysis. In this study population, preoperative benzodiazepines were associated with increased odds of readmission. Preoperative opioids were not associated with increased odds of the examined outcomes. Studies are needed to further examine risks associated with preoperative benzodiazepine use.
Predictive coding models for pain perception
Pain is a complex, multidimensional experience that involves dynamic interactions between sensory-discriminative and affective-emotional processes. Pain experiences have a high degree of variability depending on their context and prior anticipation. Viewing pain perception as a perceptual inference problem, we propose a predictive coding paradigm to characterize evoked and non-evoked pain. We record the local field potentials (LFPs) from the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) of freely behaving rats-two regions known to encode the sensory-discriminative and affective-emotional aspects of pain, respectively. We further use predictive coding to investigate the temporal coordination of oscillatory activity between the S1 and ACC. Specifically, we develop a phenomenological predictive coding model to describe the macroscopic dynamics of bottom-up and top-down activity. Supported by recent experimental data, we also develop a biophysical neural mass model to describe the mesoscopic neural dynamics in the S1 and ACC populations, in both naive and chronic pain-treated animals. Our proposed predictive coding models not only replicate important experimental findings, but also provide new prediction about the impact of the model parameters on the physiological or behavioral read-out-thereby yielding mechanistic insight into the uncertainty of expectation, placebo or nocebo effect, and chronic pain.
AMPAkines potentiate the corticostriatal pathway to reduce acute and chronic pain
The corticostriatal circuit plays an important role in the regulation of reward- and aversion-types of behaviors. Specifically, the projection from the prelimbic cortex (PL) to the nucleus accumbens (NAc) has been shown to regulate sensory and affective aspects of pain in a number of rodent models. Previous studies have shown that enhancement of glutamate signaling through the NAc by AMPAkines, a class of agents that specifically potentiate the function of Î±-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors, reduces acute and persistent pain. However, it is not known whether postsynaptic potentiation of the NAc with these agents can achieve the full anti-nociceptive effects of PL activation. Here we compared the impact of AMPAkine treatment in the NAc with optogenetic activation of the PL on pain behaviors in rats. We found that not only does AMPAkine treatment partially reconstitute the PL inhibition of sensory withdrawals, it fully occludes the effect of the PL on reducing the aversive component of pain. These results indicate that the NAc is likely one of the key targets for the PL, especially in the regulation of pain aversion. Furthermore, our results lend support for neuromodulation or pharmacological activation of the corticostriatal circuit as an important analgesic approach.
Automated digital TIL analysis (ADTA) adds prognostic value to standard assessment of depth and ulceration in primary melanoma
Accurate prognostic biomarkers in early-stage melanoma are urgently needed to stratify patients for clinical trials of adjuvant therapy. We applied a previously developed open source deep learning algorithm to detect tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) images of early-stage melanomas. We tested whether automated digital (TIL) analysis (ADTA) improved accuracy of prediction of disease specific survival (DSS) based on current pathology standards. ADTA was applied to a training cohort (nâ€‰=â€‰80) and a cutoff value was defined based on a Receiver Operating Curve. ADTA was then applied to a validation cohort (nâ€‰=â€‰145) and the previously determined cutoff value was used to stratify high and low risk patients, as demonstrated by Kaplan-Meier analysis (pâ€‰â‰¤â€‰0.001). Multivariable Cox proportional hazards analysis was performed using ADTA, depth, and ulceration as co-variables and showed that ADTA contributed to DSS prediction (HR: 4.18, CI 1.51-11.58, pâ€‰=â€‰0.006). ADTA provides an effective and attainable assessment of TILs and should be further evaluated in larger studies for inclusion in staging algorithms.
Pharmacological restoration of anti-nociceptive functions in the prefrontal cortex relieves chronic pain
Chronic pain affects one in four adults, and effective non-sedating and non-addictive treatments are urgently needed. Chronic pain causes maladaptive changes in the cerebral cortex, which can lead to impaired endogenous nociceptive processing. However, it is not yet clear if drugs that restore endogenous cortical regulation could provide an effective therapeutic strategy for chronic pain. Here, we studied the nociceptive response of neurons in the prelimbic region of the prefrontal cortex (PL-PFC) in freely behaving rats using a spared nerve injury (SNI) model of chronic pain, and the impact of AMPAkines, a class of drugs that increase central glutamate signaling, on such response. We found that neurons in the PL-PFC increase their firing rates in response to noxious stimulations; chronic neuropathic pain, however, suppressed this important cortical pain response. Meanwhile, CX546, a well-known AMPAkine, restored the anti-nociceptive response of PL-PFC neurons in the chronic pain condition. In addition, both systemic administration and direct delivery of CX546 into the PL-PFC inhibited symptoms of chronic pain, whereas optogenetic inactivation of the PFC neurons or administration of AMPA receptor antagonists in the PL-PFC blocked the anti-nociceptive effects of CX546. These results indicate that restoration of the endogenous anti-nociceptive functions in the PL-PFC by pharmacological agents such as AMPAkines constitutes a successful strategy to treat chronic neuropathic pain.
Ketamine normalizes high-gamma power in the anterior cingulate cortex in a rat chronic pain model
Chronic pain alters cortical and subcortical plasticity, causing enhanced sensory and affective responses to peripheral nociceptive inputs. Previous studies have shown that ketamine had the potential to inhibit abnormally amplified affective responses of single neurons by suppressing hyperactivity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). However, the mechanism of this enduring effect has yet to be understood at the network level. In this study, we recorded local field potentials from the ACC of freely moving rats. Animals were injected with complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) to induce persistent inflammatory pain. Mechanical stimulations were administered to the hind paw before and after CFA administration. We found a significant increase in the high-gamma band (60-100Â Hz) power in response to evoked pain after CFA treatment. Ketamine, however, reduced the high-gamma band power in response to evoked pain in CFA-treated rats. In addition, ketamine had a sustained effect on the high-gamma band power lasting up to five days after a single dose administration. These results demonstrate that ketamine has the potential to alter maladaptive neural responses in the ACC induced by chronic pain.
Discovery and validation of biomarkers to aid the development of safe and effective pain therapeutics: challenges and opportunities
Pain medication plays an important role in the treatment of acute and chronic pain conditions, but some drugs, opioids in particular, have been overprescribed or prescribed without adequate safeguards, leading to an alarming rise in medication-related overdose deaths. The NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative is a trans-agency effort to provide scientific solutions to stem the opioid crisis. One component of the initiative is to support biomarker discovery and rigorous validation in collaboration with industry leaders to accelerate high-quality clinical research into neurotherapeutics and pain. The use of objective biomarkers and clinical trial end points throughout the drug discovery and development process is crucial to help define pathophysiological subsets of pain, evaluate target engagement of new drugs and predict the analgesic efficacy of new drugs. In 2018, the NIH-led Discovery and Validation of Biomarkers to Develop Non-Addictive Therapeutics for Pain workshop convened scientific leaders from academia, industry, government and patient advocacy groups to discuss progress, challenges, gaps and ideas to facilitate the development of biomarkers and end points for pain. The outcomes of this workshop are outlined in this Consensus Statement.
Mapping Cortical Integration of Sensory and Affective Pain Pathways
Pain is an integrated sensory and affective experience. Cortical mechanisms of sensory and affective integration, however, remain poorly defined. Here, we investigate the projection from the primary somatosensory cortex (S1), which encodes the sensory pain information, to the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a key area for processing pain affect, in freely behaving rats. By using a combination of optogenetics, inÂ vivo electrophysiology, and machine learning analysis, we find that a subset of neurons in the ACC receives S1 inputs, and activation of the S1 axon terminals increases the response to noxious stimuli in ACC neurons. Chronic pain enhances this cortico-cortical connection, as manifested by an increased number of ACC neurons that respond to S1 inputs and the magnified contribution of these neurons to the nociceptive response in the ACC. Furthermore, modulation of this S1â†’ACC projection regulates aversive responses to pain. Our results thus define a cortical circuit that plays a potentially important role in integrating sensory and affective pain signals.