Research Papers:

Wu-tou decoction attenuates neuropathic pain via suppressing spinal astrocytic IL-1R1/TRAF6/JNK signaling

Chao Wang, Xiangying Kong, Chunyan Zhu, Chunfang Liu, Danni Sun, Qionghong Xu, Zhiyun Mao, Qingxia Qin, Hongchang Su, Danqiao Wang, Xiaoliang Zhao and Na Lin _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:92864-92879. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.21638

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Chao Wang1,*, Xiangying Kong1,*, Chunyan Zhu1, Chunfang Liu1, Danni Sun1, Qionghong Xu1, Zhiyun Mao1, Qingxia Qin1, Hongchang Su1, Danqiao Wang2, Xiaoliang Zhao2 and Na Lin1

1Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100700, China

2Experimental Research Center, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100700, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Na Lin, email: [email protected]

Keywords: Wu-tou decoction (WTD), neuropathic pain (NP), glia-mediated neuroinflammation, astrocytic IL-1R1/TRAF6/JNK signaling, anti-hyperalgesia

Received: June 14, 2017     Accepted: August 26, 2017     Published: October 06, 2017


Neuropathic pain (NP) caused by nerve injuries continues to be an intractable challenge due to inadequate therapeutic strategies. Recent study demonstrated glia-induced neuro-inflammation in the spinal cord, especially the activation of astrocytes, plays an essential role in the development of NP, which opens new avenues for NP treatment. In this study, we explored the anti-hyperalgesia properties of Wu-tou decoction (WTD) and showed that WTD potently attenuates mechanical allodynia and heat hyperalgesia in lumbar 5 (L5) spinal nerve ligation (SNL)-induced NP without noticeable side effect or affecting basal pain perception of mice. Mechanistically, initial targets screening tests indicated WTD's analgesic action may be centrally mediated within the spinal cord, which further verified by its inhibitory actions on glia-releasing factors of IL-1β, CCL2 and CXCL1. Meanwhile, WTD significantly reduced spinal IL-1R1, TRAF6 expressions, p-JNK levels, and number of GFAP/IL-1R1, GFAP/TRAF6, GFAP/p-JNK positive astrocytes in the superficial lamina of spinal cord. Additionally, co-administration of IL-1Ra increased the anti-hyperalgesia effects of WTD and further decreased CCL2 and CXCL1 expressions, while no synergistic effects were detected when TRAF6 or JNK inhibitors were co-administrated with WTD. Thus, our data suggested that the effective inhibition of spinal astrocytic IL-1R1/TRAF6/JNK signaling (especially IL-1R1) contributes, at least in part, to WTD's anti-hyperalgesia action. It also indicates that WTD might be a promising candidate for the treatments of chronic pain, especially under NP-related neurological disorders.

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