Chemokines and the pathophysiology of neuropathic pain

Fletcher A. White, Hosung Jung, Richard J. Miller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

301 Scopus citations


Chemokines and chemokine receptors are widely expressed by cells of the immune and nervous systems. This review focuses on our current knowledge concerning the role of chemokines in the pathophysiology of chronic pain syndromes. Injury- or disease-induced changes in the expression of diverse chemokines and their receptors have been demonstrated in the neural and nonneural elements of pain pathways. Under these circumstances, chemokines have been shown to modulate the electrical activity of neurons by multiple regulatory pathways including increases in neurotransmitter release through Ca-dependent mechanisms and transactivation of transient receptor channels. Either of these mechanisms alone, or in combination, may contribute to sustained excitability of primary afferent and secondary neurons within spinal pain pathways. Another manner in which chemokines may influence sustained neuronal excitability may be their ability to function as excitatory neurotransmitters within the peripheral and central nervous system. As is the case for traditional neurotransmitters, injury-induced up-regulated chemokines are found within synaptic vesicles. Chemokines released after depolarization of the cell membrane can then act on other chemokine receptor-bearing neurons, glia, or immune cells. Because up-regulation of chemokines and their receptors may be one of the mechanisms that directly or indirectly contribute to the development and maintenance of chronic pain, these molecules may then represent novel targets for therapeutic intervention in chronic pain states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20151-20158
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 18 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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