Neuropathic pain is generally defined as a chronic pain state resulting from peripheral and/or central nerve injury. Effective treatment for neuropathic pain is still lacking, due in part to poor understanding of pathological mechanisms at the molecular level. Neuronal mechanisms of neuropathic pain, especially synaptic plasticity, are the major focus of many investigators. N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor dependent synaptic plasticity at the spinal and cortical levels is believed to contribute to enhanced sensory responses after injury. Glial cells, including astrocytes and microglia, have recently been implicated in neuropathic pain. These glial cells form close interactions with neurons and thus may modulate nociceptive transmission under pathological conditions. In this review, we present recent progress in the study of neuronal and microglial mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain. We propose that activity-dependent neuronal plasticity is a key target for treatment in neuropathic pain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience