Neuropathic pain affects up to 10% of the total population and no specific target is ideal for therapeutic need. The sodium leak channel (NALCN), a voltage-independent cation channel, mediates the background Na+ leak conductance and controls neuronal excitability and rhythmic behaviors. Here, we show that increases of NALCN expression and function in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and dorsal spinal cord contribute to chronic constriction injury (CCI)-induced neuropathic pain in rodents. NALCN current and neuronal excitability in acutely isolated DRG neurons and spinal cord slices of rats were increased after CCI which were decreased to normal levels by NALCN-siRNA. Accordingly, pain-related symptoms were significantly alleviated by NALCN-siRNA-mediated NALCN knockdown and completely reversed by NALCN-shRNA-mediated NALCN knockdown in rats or by conditional NALCN knockout in mice. Our results indicate that increases in NALCN expression and function contribute to CCI-induced neuronal sensitization; therefore, NALCN may be a novel therapeutic target for neuropathic pain.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience