1. Guizhou Key Laboratory of Brain Science, Zunyi Medical University, Zunyi 563000, China.
2. Guizhou Key Laboratory of Anesthesia and Organ Protection, Zunyi Medical University, Zunyi 563000, China.
3. Graduate School, Zunyi Medical University, Zunyi 563000, China.
4. Department of Pain Medicine, Affiliated Hospital of Zunyi Medical University, Zunyi, 563000, China.
Rationale: Pain and depression, which tend to occur simultaneously and share some common neural circuits and neurotransmitters, are highly prevalent complication in patients with advanced cancer. Exploring the underlying mechanisms is the cornerstone to prevent the comorbidity of chronic pain and depression in cancer patients. Plasticity-related gene 1 (PRG-1) protein regulates synaptic plasticity and brain functional reorganization during neuronal development or after cerebral lesion. Purinergic P2X7 receptor has been proposed as a therapeutic target for various pain and neurological disorders like depression in rodents. In this study, we investigated the roles of PRG-1 in the hippocampus in the comorbidity of pain and depressive-like behaviors in rats with bone cancer pain (BCP).
Methods: The bone cancer pain rat model was established by intra-tibial cell inoculation of SHZ-88 mammary gland carcinoma cells. The animal pain behaviors were assessed by measuring the thermal withdrawal latency values by using radiant heat stimulation and mechanical withdrawal threshold by using electronic von Frey anesthesiometer, and depressive-like behavior was assessed by sucrose preference test and forced swim test. Alterations in the expression levels of PRG-1 and P2X7 receptor in hippocampus were separately detected by using western blot, immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry analysis. The effects of intra-hippocampal injection of FTY720 (a PRG-1/PP2A interaction activator), PRG-1 overexpression or intra-hippocampal injection of A438079 (a selective competitive P2X7 receptor antagonist) were also observed.
Results: Carcinoma intra-tibia injection caused thermal hyperalgesia, mechanical allodynia and depressive-like behaviors in rats, and also induced the deactivation of neurons and dendritic spine structural anomalies in the hippocampus. Western blot, immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry analysis showed an increased expression of PRG-1 and P2X7 receptor in the hippocampus of BCP rats. Intra-hippocampal injection of FTY720 or A438079 attenuated both pain and depressive-like behaviors. Furthermore, overexpression of PRG-1 in hippocampus has similar analgesic efficacy to FTY720. In addition, they rescued neuron deactivation and dendritic spine anomalies.
Conclusion: The results suggest that both PRG-1 and P2X7 receptor in the hippocampus play important roles in the development of pain and depressive-like behaviors in bone cancer condition in rats by dendritic spine regulation via P2X7R/PRG-1/PP2A pathway.
Keywords: bone cancer pain, PRG-1, P2X7 receptor, depression, dendritic spine