Diurnal variations in pain hypersensitivity are common in chronic pain disorders, but the underlying mechanisms are enigmatic. Here, we report that mechanical pain hypersensitivity in sciatic nerve-injured mice shows pronounced diurnal alterations, which critically depend on diurnal variations in glucocorticoids from the adrenal glands. Diurnal enhancement of pain hypersensitivity is mediated by glucocorticoid-induced enhancement of the extracellular release of ATP in the spinal cord, which stimulates purinergic receptors on microglia in the dorsal horn. We identify serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase-1 (SGK-1) as the key molecule responsible for the glucocorticoid-enhanced release of ATP from astrocytes. SGK-1 protein levels in spinal astrocytes are increased in response to glucocorticoid stimuli and enhanced ATP release by opening the pannexin-1 hemichannels. Our findings reveal an unappreciated circadian machinery affecting pain hypersensitivity caused by peripheral nerve injury, thus opening up novel approaches to the management of chronic pain.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)