Protease-activated receptor 2 activation is sufficient to induce the transition to a chronic pain state

Dipti V. Tillu, Shayne N. Hassler, Carolina C. Burgos-Vega, Tammie L. Quinn, Robert E. Sorge, Gregory Dussor, Scott Boitano, Josef Vagner, Theodore J. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Protease-activated receptor type 2 (PAR2) is known to play an important role in inflammatory, visceral, and cancer-evoked pain based on studies using PAR2 knockout (PAR2 -/-) mice. We have tested the hypothesis that specific activation of PAR2 is sufficient to induce a chronic pain state through extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling to protein synthesis machinery. We have further tested whether the maintenance of this chronic pain state involves a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)/tropomyosin-related kinase B (trkB)/atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) signaling axis. We observed that intraplantar injection of the novel highly specific PAR2 agonist, 2-aminothiazol-4-yl-LIGRL-NH2 (2-at), evokes a long-lasting acute mechanical hypersensitivity (median effective dose ∼12 pmoles), facial grimacing, and causes robust hyperalgesic priming as revealed by a subsequent mechanical hypersensitivity and facial grimacing to prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) injection. The promechanical hypersensitivity effect of 2-at is completely absent in PAR2 -/- mice as is hyperalgesic priming. Intraplantar injection of the upstream ERK inhibitor, U0126, and the eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4F complex inhibitor, 4EGI-1, prevented the development of acute mechanical hypersensitivity and hyperalgesic priming after 2-at injection. Systemic injection of the trkB antagonist ANA-12 similarly inhibited PAR2 -mediated mechanical hypersensitivity, grimacing, and hyperalgesic priming. Inhibition of aPKC (intrathecal delivery of ZIP) or trkB (systemic administration of ANA-12) after the resolution of 2-at-induced mechanical hypersensitivity reversed the maintenance of hyperalgesic priming. Hence, PAR2 activation is sufficient to induce neuronal plasticity leading to a chronic pain state, the maintenance of which is dependent on a BDNF/trkB/aPKC signaling axis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-867
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Atypical PKC
  • BDNF
  • Hyperalgesic priming
  • MAPK
  • PAR
  • Proteinase activated receptor
  • Translation control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Protease-activated receptor 2 activation is sufficient to induce the transition to a chronic pain state'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this