The known knowns of microglia-neuronal signalling in neuropathic pain

Neurosci Lett. 2013 Dec 17:557 Pt A:37-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2013.08.037. Epub 2013 Aug 27.


Microglia are key cellular mediators of plasticity in the spinal cord that drives the development and maintenance of pain hypersensitivity following peripheral nerve damage. An essential reactive microglial phenotype is characterized by induced expression of purinergic P2X4 receptors. Activation of these receptors initiates a core microglial-neuronal signalling pathway which through disinhibition transforms the output of dorsal horn neurons projecting to the brain pain networks. Here we describe recent advances in elucidating molecules that regulate key aspects of this core pathway, and opportunities for targeting critical signalling hubs to treat neuropathic pain.

Keywords: BDNF; Microglia; P2X4; Spinal cord.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Neuralgia / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries / metabolism
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X4 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord / physiopathology


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X4