Thanks to our colleague Lakshmi Shankdhar for this superb find from colleagues at Yale:
Yale researchers have identified an unexpected source of the pain and a potential target to alleviate it.The research has been reported in May, 2012 issue of Journal of Neuroscience.
Changes in the structure of dendritic spines – microscopic projections on the receiving branches of nerve cells – are associated with pain in laboratory rats with diabetes. A single neuron may contain hundreds to thousands of dendritic spines.
An interesting line of study is based on the idea that neuropathic pain is due to faulty ‘rewiring’ of pain circuitry.”
The Yale team led by Tan and senior author Stephen G. Waxman, Bridget Marie Flaherty Professor of Neurology, professor of neurobiology and pharmacology, found abnormal dendritic spines were associated with the onset and maintenance of pain.
Tan said that these dendritic spines in nerve cells seem to store memory of pain, just as they are crucial in memory and learning in the human brain.
“We have identified a single, key molecule that controls structural changes in these spines and hopefully we can develop therapeutic approaches that target that molecule and reduce diabetic pain,” Waxman said.