PerspectiveNeuroscience

Scaling pain threshold with microRNAs

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Science  16 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6343, pp. 1124-1125
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan6784

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Summary

Pain is not something universally enjoyed, especially chronic pain involving nerve damage, referred to as neuropathic pain (1). Pain perception can be modulated in a variety of ways—for example, by focusing attention on the painful stimulus. On page 1168 of this issue, Peng et al. (2) report that pain threshold in dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRG), which relay peripheral sensory information to the central nervous system, can be modulated by mechanisms involving a specific cluster of microRNAs (miRNAs). Remarkably, the same cluster also regulates the threshold of neuropathic pain in DRG neurons that would not be involved in pain under normal conditions. The study provides important new insights into molecular mechanisms that control pain threshold, both in normal and pathological conditions.