Microglia and monocytes synergistically promote the transition from acute to chronic pain after nerve injury

Nat Commun. 2016 Jun 28;7:12029. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12029.


Microglia and peripheral monocytes contribute to hypersensitivity in rodent models of neuropathic pain. However, the precise respective function of microglia and peripheral monocytes has not been investigated in these models. To address this question, here we combined transgenic mice and pharmacological tools to specifically and temporally control the depletion of microglia and monocytes in a mouse model of spinal nerve transection (SNT). We found that although microglia and monocytes are required during the initiation of mechanical allodynia or thermal hyperalgesia, these cells may not be as important for the maintenance of hypersensitivity. Moreover, we demonstrated that either resident microglia or peripheral monocytes are sufficient in gating neuropathic pain after SNT. We propose that resident microglia and peripheral monocytes act synergistically to initiate hypersensitivity and promote the transition from acute to chronic pain after peripheral nerve injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CX3C Chemokine Receptor 1 / metabolism
  • Chronic Pain / immunology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microglia / physiology*
  • Monocytes / physiology*
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries / immunology*
  • Spinal Nerves / immunology


  • CX3C Chemokine Receptor 1
  • Cx3cr1 protein, mouse