Article: article from journal or magazin.
Possible role of spinal astrocytes in maintaining chronic pain sensitization: review of current evidence with focus on bFGF/JNK pathway
Neuron Glia Biol
Journal article --- Old month value: Nov
Although pain is regarded traditionally as neuronally mediated, recent progress shows an important role of spinal glial cells in persistent pain sensitization. Mounting evidence has implicated spinal microglia in the development of chronic pain (e.g. neuropathic pain after peripheral nerve injury). Less is known about the role of astrocytes in pain regulation. However, astrocytes have very close contact with synapses and maintain homeostasis in the extracellular environment. In this review, we provide evidence to support a role of spinal astrocytes in maintaining chronic pain. In particular, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) is activated persistently in spinal astrocytes in a neuropathic pain condition produced by spinal nerve ligation. This activation is required for the maintenance of neuropathic pain because spinal infusion of JNK inhibitors can reverse mechanical allodynia, a major symptom of neuropathic pain. Further study reveals that JNK is activated strongly in astrocytes by basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), an astroglial activator. Intrathecal infusion of bFGF also produces persistent mechanical allodynia. After peripheral nerve injury, bFGF might be produced by primary sensory neurons and spinal astrocytes because nerve injury produces robust bFGF upregulation in both cell types. Therefore, the bFGF/JNK pathway is an important signalling pathway in spinal astrocytes for chronic pain sensitization. Investigation of signaling mechanisms in spinal astrocytes will identify new molecular targets for the management of chronic pain.
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