Chronic pain patients often have anxiety disorders, and some of them suffer from anxiety even after analgesic administration. In this study, we investigated the role of AMPAR-mediated synaptic transmission in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) in chronic pain-induced persistent anxiety in mice and explored potential drug targets. Chronic inflammatory pain was induced in mice by bilateral injection of complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) into the planta of the hind paws; anxiety-like behaviours were assessed with behavioural tests; S-nitrosylation and AMPAR-mediated synaptic transmission were examined using biochemical assays and electrophysiological recordings, respectively. We found that CFA induced persistent upregulation of AMPAR membrane expression and function in the vmPFC of anxious mice but not in the vmPFC of non-anxious mice. The anxious mice exhibited higher S-nitrosylation of stargazin (an AMPAR-interacting protein) in the vmPFC. Inhibition of S-nitrosylation by bilaterally infusing an exogenous stargazin (C302S) mutant into the vmPFC rescued the surface expression of GluA1 and AMPAR-mediated synaptic transmission as well as the anxiety-like behaviours in CFA-injected mice, even after ibuprofen treatment. Moreover, administration of ZL006, a small molecular inhibitor disrupting the interaction of nNOS and PSD-95 (20 mg·kg−1·d−1, for 5 days, i.p.), significantly reduced nitric oxide production and S-nitrosylation of AMPAR-interacting proteins in the vmPFC, resulting in anxiolytic-like effects in anxious mice after ibuprofen treatment. We conclude that S-nitrosylation is necessary for AMPAR trafficking and function in the vmPFC under chronic inflammatory pain-induced persistent anxiety conditions, and nNOS-PSD-95 inhibitors could be potential anxiolytics specific for chronic inflammatory pain-induced persistent anxiety after analgesic treatment.
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This work was supported by grants from the National Brain Research Programme of China (2022ZD0211703), National Natural Science Foundation of China (82171293, 82090042), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK20211255), Fujian Province Natural Science Foundation (2021J011433), and Fujian Provincial Health Technology Project (2021QNA072). The authors thank D. Yang and J.T. Wang for technical assistance with the behavioural tests.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Chen, Zj., Su, Cw., Xiong, S. et al. Enhanced AMPAR-dependent synaptic transmission by S-nitrosylation in the vmPFC contributes to chronic inflammatory pain-induced persistent anxiety in mice. Acta Pharmacol Sin (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41401-022-01024-z
- chronic pain
- AMPAR trafficking