Microglial cells, the resident immune cells of the spinal cord, become activated in response to peripheral nerve injury. Microglia activation contributes to the development of neuropathic pain. Here we employed microarray analysis of individually collected pools of 10 spinal microglia cells to identify changes of levels and cell-to-cell expression variance of microglial genes during their activation after peripheral nerve injury. The analysis of microglia on postoperative day 1 (POD1) identified miR-29c as a critical factor for microglial activation and the development of neuropathic pain. Early POD1 microglia exhibited a very distinct expression profile compared to late POD7 microglia, possibly leading to the transition from initiation to maintenance of neuropathic pain. We found sample variance patterns that were consistent with the hypothesis that microglia were highly heterogeneous at the level of individual cells, and variation analysis identified 56 microglial genes potentially linked to the maintenance of neuropathic pain which included Gria1. This study provides insights into spinal microglial biology and reveals novel microglial targets for the treatment of neuropathic pain.
- High-resolution transcriptome
- Neuropathic pain
- Spinal microglia
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine