Nanotechnology for pain management: Current and future therapeutic interventions
Pain is one of the most common medical conditions and affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Current pain treatments mainly rely on opioid analgesics and remain unsatisfactory. The life-threatening side effects and addictive properties of opioids demand new therapeutic approaches. Nanomedicine may be able to address these challenges as it allows for sensitive and targeted treatments without some of the burdens associated with current clinical pain therapies. This review discusses the physiology of pain, the current landscape of pain treatment, novel targets for pain treatment, and recent and ongoing efforts to effectively treat pain using nanotechnology-based approaches. We highlight advances in nanoparticle-based drug delivery to reduce side effects, gene therapy to tackle the source of pain, and nanomaterials-based scavenging to proactively mediate pain signaling.
An American Physiological Society cross-journal Call for Papers on "Inter-Organ Communication in Homeostasis and Disease" [Editorial]
Serotonin-induced vascular permeability is mediated by transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 in the airways and upper gastrointestinal tract of mice
Endothelial and epithelial cells form physical barriers that modulate the exchange of fluid and molecules. The integrity of these barriers can be influenced by signaling through G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and ion channels. Serotonin (5-HT) is an important vasoactive mediator of tissue edema and inflammation. However, the mechanisms that drive 5-HT-induced plasma extravasation are poorly defined. The Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) ion channel is an established enhancer of signaling by GPCRs that promote inflammation and endothelial barrier disruption. Here, we investigated the role of TRPV4 in 5-HT-induced plasma extravasation using pharmacological and genetic approaches. Activation of either TRPV4 or 5-HT receptors promoted significant plasma extravasation in the airway and upper gastrointestinal tract of mice. 5-HT-mediated extravasation was significantly reduced by pharmacological inhibition of the 5-HT2A receptor subtype, or with antagonism or deletion of TRPV4, consistent with functional interaction between 5-HT receptors and TRPV4. Inhibition of receptors for the neuropeptides substance P (SP) or calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) diminished 5-HT-induced plasma extravasation. Supporting studies assessing treatment of HUVEC with 5-HT, CGRP, or SP was associated with ERK phosphorylation. Exposure to the TRPV4 activator GSK1016790A, but not 5-HT, increased intracellular Ca2+ in these cells. However, 5-HT pre-treatment enhanced GSK1016790A-mediated Ca2+ signaling, consistent with sensitization of TRPV4. The functional interaction was further characterized in HEK293 cells expressing 5-HT2A to reveal that TRPV4 enhances the duration of 5-HT-evoked Ca2+ signaling through a PLA2 and PKC-dependent mechanism. In summary, this study demonstrates that TRPV4 contributes to 5-HT2A-induced plasma extravasation in the airways and upper GI tract, with evidence supporting a mechanism of action involving SP and CGRP release.
Peripheral Nerve Resident Macrophages and Schwann Cells Mediate Cancer-induced Pain
Although macrophages (MÎ¦) are known to play a central role in neuropathic pain, their contribution to cancer pain has not been established. Here we report that depletion of sciatic nerve resident MÎ¦s (rMÎ¦) in mice attenuates mechanical/cold hypersensitivity and spontaneous pain evoked by intraplantar injection of melanoma or lung carcinoma cells. MÎ¦-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF) was upregulated in the sciatic nerve trunk and mediated cancer-evoked pain via rMÎ¦ expansion, transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) activation, and oxidative stress. Targeted deletion of Trpa1 revealed a key role for Schwann cell TRPA1 in sciatic nerve rMÎ¦ expansion and pain-like behaviors. Depletion of rMÎ¦s in a medial portion of the sciatic nerve prevented pain-like behaviors. Collectively, we identified a feed-forward pathway involving M-CSF, rMÎ¦, oxidative stress and Schwann cell TRPA1 that operates throughout the nerve trunk to signal cancer-evoked pain.
Targeting G protein-coupled receptors for the treatment of chronic pain in the digestive system
Chronic pain is a hallmark of functional disorders, inflammatory diseases and cancer of the digestive system. The mechanisms that initiate and sustain chronic pain are incompletely understood, and available therapies are inadequate. This review highlights recent advances in the structure and function of pronociceptive and antinociceptive G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) that provide insights into the mechanisms and treatment of chronic pain. This knowledge, derived from studies of somatic pain, can guide research into visceral pain. Mediators from injured tissues transiently activate GPCRs at the plasma membrane of neurons, leading to sensitisation of ion channels and acute hyperexcitability and nociception. Sustained agonist release evokes GPCR redistribution to endosomes, where persistent signalling regulates activity of channels and genes that control chronic hyperexcitability and nociception. Endosomally targeted GPCR antagonists provide superior pain relief in preclinical models. Biased agonists stabilise GPCR conformations that favour signalling of beneficial actions at the expense of detrimental side effects. Biased agonists of Âµ-opioid receptors (MOPrs) can provide analgesia without addiction, respiratory depression and constipation. Opioids that preferentially bind to MOPrs in the acidic microenvironment of diseased tissues produce analgesia without side effects. Allosteric modulators of GPCRs fine-tune actions of endogenous ligands, offering the prospect of refined pain control. GPCR dimers might function as distinct therapeutic targets for nociception. The discovery that GPCRs that control itch also mediate irritant sensation in the colon has revealed new targets. A deeper understanding of GPCR structure and function in different microenvironments offers the potential of developing superior treatments for GI pain.
Agonist that activates the Âµ-opioid receptor in acidified microenvironments inhibits colitis pain without side effects
OBJECTIVE:The effectiveness of Âµ-opioid receptor (MOPr) agonists for treatment of visceral pain is compromised by constipation, respiratory depression, sedation and addiction. We investigated whether a fentanyl analogue, (Â±)-N-(3-fluoro-1-phenethylpiperidine-4-yl)-N-phenyl propionamide (NFEPP), which preferentially activates MOPr in acidified diseased tissues, would inhibit pain in a preclinical model of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) without side effects in healthy tissues. DESIGN/METHODS:Antinociceptive actions of NFEPP and fentanyl were compared in control mice and mice with dextran sodium sulfate colitis by measuring visceromotor responses to colorectal distension. Patch clamp and extracellular recordings were used to assess nociceptor activation. Defecation, respiration and locomotion were assessed. Colonic migrating motor complexes were assessed by spatiotemporal mapping of isolated tissue. NFEPP-induced MOPr signalling and trafficking were studied in human embryonic kidney 293 cells. RESULTS:NFEPP inhibited visceromotor responses to colorectal distension in mice with colitis but not in control mice, consistent with acidification of the inflamed colon. Fentanyl inhibited responses in both groups. NFEPP inhibited the excitability of dorsal root ganglion neurons and suppressed mechanical sensitivity of colonic afferent fibres in acidified but not physiological conditions. Whereas fentanyl decreased defecation and caused respiratory depression and hyperactivity in mice with colitis, NFEPP was devoid of these effects. NFEPP did not affect colonic migrating motor complexes at physiological pH. NFEPP preferentially activated MOPr in acidified extracellular conditions to inhibit cAMP formation, recruit Î²-arrestins and evoke MOPr endocytosis. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:In a preclinical IBD model, NFEPP preferentially activates MOPr in acidified microenvironments of inflamed tissues to induce antinociception without causing respiratory depression, constipation and hyperactivity.
A lipid-anchored neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist prolongs pain relief by a three-pronged mechanism of action targeting the receptor at the plasma membrane and in endosomes
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are traditionally known for signaling at the plasma membrane, but they can also signal from endosomes after internalization to control important pathophysiological processes. In spinal neurons, sustained endosomal signaling of the neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1R) mediates nociception, as demonstrated in models of acute and neuropathic pain. An NK1R antagonist, Spantide I (Span), conjugated to cholestanol (Span-Chol), accumulates in endosomes, inhibits endosomal NK1R signaling, and causes prolonged anti-nociception. However, the extent to which the Chol-anchor influences long-term location and activity is poorly understood. Herein, we used fluorescent correlation spectroscopy and targeted biosensors to characterize Span-Chol over time. The Chol-anchor increased local concentration of probe at the plasma membrane. Over time we observed an increase in NK1R binding affinity and more potent inhibition of NK1R-mediated calcium signaling. Span-Chol, but not Span, caused a persistent decrease in NK1R recruitment of Î²-arrestin and receptor internalization to early endosomes. Using targeted biosensors, we mapped the relative inhibition of NK1R signaling as the receptor moved into the cell. Span selectively inhibited cell surface signaling, whereas Span-Chol partitioned into endosomal membranes and blocked endosomal signaling. In a preclinical model of pain, Span-Chol caused prolonged antinociception (>9 h), which is attributable to a three-pronged mechanism of action: increased local concentration at membranes, a prolonged decrease in NK1R endocytosis, and persistent inhibition of signaling from endosomes. Identifying the mechanisms that contribute to the increased preclinical efficacy of lipid-anchored NK1R antagonists is an important step toward understanding how we can effectively target intracellular GPCRs in disease.
Legumain Induces Oral Cancer Pain by Biased Agonism of Protease-Activated Receptor-2
Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is one of the most painful cancers, which interferes with orofacial function including talking and eating. We report that legumain (Lgmn) cleaves protease-activated receptor-2 (PAR2) in the acidic OSCC microenvironment to cause pain. Lgmn is a cysteine protease of late endosomes and lysosomes that can be secreted; it exhibits maximal activity in acidic environments. The role of Lgmn in PAR2-dependent cancer pain is unknown. We studied Lgmn activation in human oral cancers and oral cancer mouse models. Lgmn was activated in OSCC patient tumors, compared to matched normal oral tissue. After intraplantar, facial or lingual injection, Lgmn evoked nociception in wild-type (WT) female mice but not in female mice lacking PAR2 in NaV1.8-positive neurons (Par2Nav1.8), nor in female mice treated with a Lgmn inhibitor, LI-1. Inoculation of an OSCC cell line caused mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia that was reversed by LI-1. Par2Nav1.8 and Lgmn deletion attenuated mechanical allodynia in female mice with carcinogen-induced OSCC. Lgmn caused PAR2-dependent hyperexcitability of trigeminal neurons from WT female mice. Par2 deletion, LI-1 and inhibitors of adenylyl cyclase or protein kinase A prevented the effects of Lgmn. Under acidified conditions, Lgmn cleaved within the extracellular N-terminus of PAR2 at Asn30â†“Arg31, proximal to the canonical trypsin activation site. Lgmn activated PAR2 by biased mechanisms in HEK293 cells to induce Ca2+ mobilization, cAMP formation and protein kinase A/D activation, but not Î²-arrestin recruitment or PAR2 endocytosis. Thus, in the acidified OSCC microenvironment Lgmn activates PAR2 by biased mechanisms that evoke cancer pain.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTOral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is one of the most painful cancers. We report that legumain (Lgmn), which exhibits maximal activity in acidic environments, cleaves protease-activated receptor-2 (PAR2) on neurons to produce OSCC pain. Active Lgmn was elevated in OSCC patient tumors, compared to matched normal oral tissue. Lgmn evokes pain-like behavior through PAR2 Exposure of pain-sensing neurons to Lgmn decreased the current required to generate an action potential through PAR2 Inhibitors of adenylyl cyclase and protein kinase A prevented the effects of Lgmn. Lgmn activated PAR2 to induce calcium mobilization, cAMP formation and activation of protein kinase D and A, but not Î²-arrestin recruitment or PAR2 endocytosis. Thus, Lgmn is a biased agonist of PAR2 that evokes cancer pain.
An American Physiological Society cross-journal Call for Papers on "Deconstructing organs: Single-cell analyses, decellularized organs, organoids, and organ-on-a-chip models" [Editorial]
The transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) ion channel mediates protease activated receptor 1 (PAR1)-induced vascular hyperpermeability
Endothelial barrier disruption is a hallmark of tissue injury, edema, and inflammation. Vascular endothelial cells express the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) protease acctivated receptor 1 (PAR1) andÂ the ion channel transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 (TRPV4), and these signaling proteins are known to respond to inflammatory conditions and promote edema through remodeling of cell-cell junctions and modulation of endothelial barriers. It has previously been established that signaling initiated by the related protease activated receptor 2 (PAR2) is enhanced by TRPV4 in sensory neurons and that this functional interaction plays a critical role in the development of neurogenic inflammation and nociception. Here, we investigated the PAR1-TRPV4 axis, to determine if TRPV4 plays a similar role in the control of edema mediated by thrombin-induced signaling. Using Evans Blue permeation and retention as an indication of increased vascular permeability in vivo, we showed that TRPV4 contributes to PAR1-induced vascular hyperpermeability in the airways and upper gastrointestinal tract of mice. TRPV4 contributes to sustained PAR1-induced Ca2+ signaling in recombinant cell systems and to PAR1-dependent endothelial junction remodeling in vitro. This study supports the role of GPCR-TRP channel functional interactions in inflammatory-associated changes to vascular function and indicates that TRPV4 is a signaling effector for multiple PAR family members.