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  • Increased sensitivity to inflammatory pain induced by subcutaneous formalin injection in serine racemase knock-out mice.

Increased sensitivity to inflammatory pain induced by subcutaneous formalin injection in serine racemase knock-out mice.

PloS one (2014-08-19)
Ayako Tabata-Imai, Ran Inoue, Hisashi Mori

D-Serine, an endogenous coagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR), is widely distributed in the central nervous system and is synthesized from L-serine by serine racemase (SR). NMDAR plays an important role in pain processing including central sensitization that eventually causes hyperalgesia. To elucidate the roles of D-serine and SR in pain transmission, we evaluated the behavioral changes and spinal nociceptive processing induced by formalin using SR knock-out (KO) mice. We found that SR is mainly distributed in lamina II of the dorsal horn of the spinal cord in wild-type (WT) mice. Although the formalin injected subcutaneously induced the biphasic pain response of licking in SR-KO and WT mice, the time spent on licking was significantly longer in the SR-KO mice during the second phase of the formalin test. The number of neurons immunopositive for c-Fos and phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (p-ERK), which are molecular pain markers, in laminae I-II of the ipsilateral dorsal horn was significantly larger in the SR-KO mice. Immunohistochemical staining revealed that the distribution of SR changed from being broad to being concentrated in cell bodies after the formalin injection. On the other hand, the expression level of the cytosolic SR in the ipsilateral dorsal horn significantly decreased. Oral administration of 10 mM D-serine in drinking water for one week cancelled the difference in pain behaviors between WT and SR-KO mice in phase 2 of the formalin test. These findings demonstrate that the SR-KO mice showed increased sensitivity to inflammatory pain and the WT mice showed translocation of SR and decreased SR expression levels after the formalin injection, which suggest a novel antinociceptive mechanism via SR indicating an important role of D-serine in pain transmission.


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