Immune and inflammatory responses occurring in the spinal cord play a pivotal role in the progression of radicular pain caused by intervertebral disk herniation. Interleukin-33 (IL-33) orchestrates inflammatory responses in a wide range of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders of the nervous system. Thus, the purpose of this study is to investigate the expression of IL-33 and its receptor ST2 in the dorsal spinal cord and to elucidate whether the inhibition of spinal IL-33 expression significantly attenuates pain-related behaviors in rat models of noncompressive lumbar disc herniation.
Lentiviral vectors encoding short hairpin RNAs that target IL-33 (LV-shIL-33) were constructed for gene silencing. Rat models of noncompressive lumber disk herniation were established, and the spines of rats were injected with LV-shIL-33 (5 or 10 μl) on the first day after the operation. Mechanical thresholds were evaluated during an observation period of 21 days. Moreover, the expression levels of spinal tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) and the activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathways were evaluated to gain insight into the mechanisms related to the contribution of IL-33/ST2 signaling to radicular pain.
The application of nucleus pulposus (NP) to the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) induced an increase in IL-33 and ST2 expression in the spinal cord, mainly in the dorsal horn neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. Spinally delivered LV-shIL-33 knocked down the expression of IL-33 and markedly attenuated mechanical allodynia. In addition, spinal administration of LV-shIL-33 reduced the overexpression of spinal IL-1β, TNF-α, and COX-2 and attenuated the activation of C-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and NF-κB/p65 but not p38.
This study indicates that spinal IL-33/ST2 signaling plays an important role in the development and progression of radicular pain in rat models of noncompressive lumber disk herniation. Thus, the inhibition of spinal IL-33 expression may provide a potential treatment to manage radicular pain caused by intervertebral disk herniation.
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- IL-33/ST2 signaling contributes to radicular pain by modulating MAPK and NF-κB activation and inflammatory mediator expression in the spinal cord in rat models of noncompressive lumber disk herniation
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