An initial investigation of spinal mechanisms underlying pain enhancement induced by fractalkine, a neuronally released chemokine.Eur J Neurosci. 2005 Dec; 22(11):2775-82.EJ
Fractalkine is a chemokine that is tethered to the extracellular surface of neurons. Fractalkine can be released, forming a diffusible signal. Spinal fractalkine (CX3CL1) is expressed by sensory afferents and intrinsic neurons, whereas its receptor (CX3CR1) is predominantly expressed by microglia. Pain enhancement occurs in response both to intrathecally administered fractalkine and to spinal fractalkine endogenously released by peripheral neuropathy. The present experiments examine whether fractalkine-induced pain enhancement is altered by a microglial inhibitor (minocycline) and/or by antagonists/inhibitors of three putative glial products implicated in pain enhancement: interleukin-1 (IL1), interleukin-6 (IL6) and nitric oxide (NO). In addition, it extends a prior study that demonstrated that intrathecal fractalkine-induced mechanical allodynia is blocked by a neutralizing antibody to the rat fractalkine receptor, CX3CR1. Here, intrathecal anti-CX3CR1 also blocked fractalkine-induced thermal hyperalgesia. Furthermore, blockade of microglial activation with minocycline prevented both fractalkine-induced mechanical allodynia (von Frey test) and thermal hyperalgesia (Hargreaves test). Microglial activation appears to lead to the release of IL1, given that pretreatment with IL1 receptor antagonist blocked both fractalkine-induced mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia. IL1 is not the only proinflammatory cytokine implicated, as a neutralizing antibody to rat IL6 also blocked fractalkine-induced pain facilitation. Lastly, NO appears to be importantly involved, as l-NAME, a broad-spectrum NO synthase inhibitor, also blocked fractalkine-induced effects. Taken together, these data support that neuronally released fractalkine enhances pain via activation of spinal cord glia. Thus, fractalkine may be a neuron-to-glia signal triggering pain facilitation.