Chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain is a clinically relevant adverse effect of several anticancer drugs leading to dose reduction or therapy discontinuation. The lack of knowledge about the mechanisms of neuropathy development and pain chronicization makes chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain treatment an unmet medical need. In this context, the vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) has emerged as a neurotoxicity biomarker in a model of chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, and its decrease has been related to pain relief. Aim of this study was to clarify the VEGF-A-dependent pain signaling in the CNS for individuating new targeted therapeutic approaches. In mice, the intrathecal infusion of VEGF-A induced a dose-dependent noxious hypersensitivity mediated by the VEGF receptor 1 (VEGFR-1) as demonstrated by pharmacological and genetic tools. In electrophysiological study, VEGF-A stimulated the spinal nociceptive neurons activity through VEGFR-1. In the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, VEGF-A increased in astrocytes of animals affected by neuropathy suggesting this cell population as a source of the potent pain mediator. Accordingly, the selective knockdown of astrocytic VEGF-A, by shRNAmir, blocked the development of oxaliplatin-induced neuropathic pain. Besides, the anti-VEGFR-1 mAb D16F7 (previously described as anticancer) effectively relieved neuropathic pain induced by chemotherapeutic agents. In conclusion, astrocyte-released VEGF-A is a new player in the complex neuron-glia network that oversees physiological and pathological pain and D16F7 mAb rises as a potent pain killer strategy.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience