CCR2 chemokine receptor signaling mediates pain in experimental osteoarthritis

Rachel E. Miller, Phuong B. Tran, Rosalina Das, Nayereh Ghoreishi-Haack, Dongjun Ren, Richard J. Miller, Anne Marie Malfait*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

214 Scopus citations


Osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes of chronic pain, but almost nothing is known about the mechanisms and molecules that mediate osteoarthritis-associated joint pain. Consequently, treatment options remain inadequate and joint replacement is often inevitable. Here, we use a surgical mouse model that captures the long-term progression of knee osteoarthritis to longitudinally assess pain-related behaviors and concomitant changes in the innervating dorsal root ganglia (DRG). We demonstrate that monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1 (CCL2) and its high-affinity receptor, chemokine (C-C motif) receptor 2 (CCR2), are central to the development of pain associated with knee osteoarthritis. After destabilization of the medial meniscus, mice developed early-onset secondary mechanical allodynia that was maintained for 16 wk. MCP-1 and CCR2 mRNA, protein, and signaling activity were temporarily up-regulated in the innervating DRG at 8 wk after surgery. This result correlated with the presentation of movement-provoked pain behaviors, which were maintained up to 16 wk. Mice that lack Ccr2 also developed mechanical allodynia, but this started to resolve from 8 wk onwards. Despite severe allodynia and structural knee joint damage equal to wild-type mice, Ccr2-null mice did not develop movement-provoked pain behaviors at 8 wk. In wild-type mice, macrophages infiltrated the DRG by 8 wk and this was maintained through 16 wk after surgery. In contrast, macrophage infiltration was not observed in Ccr2-null mice. These observations suggest a key role for the MCP-1/CCR2 pathway in establishing osteoarthritis pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20602-20607
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 11 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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