Chemokines and glycoprotein120 produce pain hypersensitivity by directly exciting primary nociceptive neurons

J Neurosci. 2001 Jul 15;21(14):5027-35. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.21-14-05027.2001.


Human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) infection is associated with numerous effects on the nervous system, including pain and peripheral neuropathies. We now demonstrate that cultured rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons express a wide variety of chemokine receptors, including those that are thought to act as receptors for the HIV-1 coat protein glycoprotein120 (gp120). Chemokines that activate all of the known chemokine receptors increased [Ca(2+)](i) in subsets of cultured DRG cells. Many neurons responded to multiple chemokines and also to bradykinin, ATP, and capsaicin. Immunohistochemical studies demonstrated the expression of the CXCR4 and CCR4 chemokine receptors on populations of DRG neurons that also expressed substance P and the VR1 vanilloid receptor. RT-PCR analysis confirmed the expression of CXCR4, CX3CR1, CCR4, and CCR5 mRNAs in DRG neurons. Chemokines and gp120 produced excitatory effects on DRG neurons and also stimulated the release of substance P. Chemokines and gp120 also produced allodynia after injection into the rat paw. Thus these results provide evidence that chemokines and gp120 may produce painful effects via direct actions on chemokine receptors expressed by nociceptive neurons. Chemokine receptor antagonists may be important therapeutic interventions in the pain that is associated with HIV-1 infection and inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Bradykinin / pharmacology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemokines / metabolism*
  • Chemokines / pharmacology
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / drug effects
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120 / pharmacology*
  • Hyperalgesia / chemically induced
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Intracellular Fluid / metabolism
  • Male
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Nociceptors / cytology
  • Nociceptors / drug effects
  • Nociceptors / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, CCR4
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Chemokine / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Chemokine / genetics
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism
  • Substance P / metabolism


  • CCR4 protein, human
  • Ccr4 protein, rat
  • Chemokines
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, CCR4
  • Receptors, CXCR4
  • Receptors, Chemokine
  • Substance P
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Capsaicin
  • Bradykinin
  • Calcium