Inflammation contributes to neuropathic pain, but the mechanisms by which neurons and inflammatory cells interact are unclear. Simeoli et al. demonstrated the release of exosomes containing miR-21 from the cell bodies of cultured mouse sensory neurons following treatment with a noxious substance. They further showed that these exosomes can be engulfed by macrophages, causing these cells to adopt a pro-inflammatory phenotype. Inhibition or deletion of miR-21 reduced the number of inflammatory macrophages in the spinal cord and mechanical hypersensitivity after nerve injury, confirming its role in neuron–macrophage communication.
Simeoli, R. et al. Exosomal cargo including microRNA regulates sensory neuron to macrophage communication after nerve trauma. Nat. Commun. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-01841-5 (2017)
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Whalley, K. A painful release. Nat Rev Neurosci 19, 7 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn.2017.159