Involvement of NF-κB and the CX3CR1 Signaling Network in Mechanical Allodynia Induced by Tetanic Sciatic Stimulation

Original Article


Tetanic stimulation of the sciatic nerve (TSS) triggers long-term potentiation in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and long-lasting pain hypersensitivity. CX3CL1–CX3CR1 signaling is an important pathway in neuronal–microglial activation. Nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) is a key signal transduction molecule that regulates neuroinflammation and neuropathic pain. Here, we set out to determine whether and how NF-κB and CX3CR1 are involved in the mechanism underlying the pathological changes induced by TSS. After unilateral TSS, significant bilateral mechanical allodynia was induced, as assessed by the von Frey test. The expression of phosphorylated NF-κB (pNF-κB) and CX3CR1 was significantly up-regulated in the bilateral dorsal horn. Immunofluorescence staining demonstrated that pNF-κB and NeuN co-existed, implying that the NF-κB pathway is predominantly activated in neurons following TSS. Administration of either the NF-κB inhibitor ammonium pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate or a CX3CR1-neutralizing antibody blocked the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain. In addition, blockade of NF-κB down-regulated the expression of CX3CL1–CX3CR1 signaling, and conversely the CX3CR1-neutralizing antibody also down-regulated pNF-κB. These findings suggest an involvement of NF-κB and the CX3CR1 signaling network in the development and maintenance of TSS-induced mechanical allodynia. Our work suggests the potential clinical application of NF-κB inhibitors or CX3CR1-neutralizing antibodies in treating pathological pain.


CX3CR1 Mechanical allodynia NF-κB Tetanic sciatic stimulation Microglia Spinal dorsal horn 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81471130, 31420103903, and 31421091) and a Development Project of Shanghai Peak Disciplines Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine.


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Copyright information

© Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS and Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institutes of Brain Science, State Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology and Collaborative Innovation Center for Brain ScienceFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Anesthesiology, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, Department of Oncology, Shanghai Medical CollegeFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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