Short small-interfering RNAs produce interferon-α-mediated analgesia.
BACKGROUND: There is increasing interest in RNA interference in pain research using the intrathecal route to deliver small-interfering RNA (siRNA). An interferon (IFN) response is a common side-effect of siRNA. However, the IFN response in the spinal cord after intrathecal administration of siRNA remains unknown. We hypothesized that high doses of siRNAs can elicit off-target analgesia via releasing IFN-α. We investigated the IFN response and its role in regulating pain sensitivity in the spinal cords after intrathecal administration of siRNAs. METHODS: Male Sprague-Dawley rats were given intrathecal injections of non-targeting (NT) siRNAs or IFN-α and tested for complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA)-induced mechanical allodynia and heat hyperalgesia. IFN-α in the spinal cord after injection of NT siRNAs was measured by western blotting and immunohistochemical staining. RESULTS: IFN-α was up-regulated in the spinal cord after intrathecal treatment of NT siRNAs. Intrathecal injection of NT siRNAs, at high doses of 10 or 20 μg, reduced CFA-induced inflammatory pain (P<0.05). Intrathecal application of IFN-α inhibited pain hypersensitivity in inflamed rats and produced analgesia in naïve rats (P<0.05). Notably, the anti-nociceptive effects elicited by NT siRNAs and IFN-α were reversed by IFN-α neutralizing antibody and naloxone. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that (i) intrathecal administration of high doses of siRNA (≥ 10 μg) induced up-regulation of IFN-α in the spinal cord and produced analgesic effects through IFN-α, and (ii) IFN-α's analgesic effect is mediated via opioid receptors. Caution must be taken to avoid IFN-α-mediated analgesic effects of siRNAs in pain research.
Tan, PH; Gao, YJ; Berta, T; Xu, ZZ; Ji, RR
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)