Adiponectin regulates thermal nociception in a mouse model of neuropathic pain

Br J Anaesth. 2018 Jun;120(6):1356-1367. doi: 10.1016/j.bja.2018.01.016. Epub 2018 Feb 19.


Background: Adiponectin, a cytokine secreted by adipocytes, plays an important role in regulating glucose and lipid metabolism. However, the role of adiponectin in pain conditions is largely unknown. This study aimed to identify the role and mechanism of adiponectin in nociceptive sensitivity under physiological and pathological states utilising adiponectin knockout (KO) mice.

Methods: Wild type (WT) and adiponectin KO mice were subjected to partial sciatic nerve ligation (pSNL) or sham operation. Pain-like behavioural tests, including thermal allodynia, hyperalgesia, and mechanical allodynia, were performed before and after pSNL from Day 3-21. Dorsal root ganglions (DRGs), lumbar spinal segments at L3-5, and somatosensory cortex were collected for protein measurement via western blotting and immunofluorescence staining.

Results: Compared with WT mice, KO mice had significantly lower (40-50%) paw withdrawal latency to innocuous and noxious stimuli before and after pSNL. In DRG neurones from KO mice, where adiponectin receptor (AdipoR) 2 is located, phosphorylated p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p-p38 MAPK) and heat-sensitive transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1) were significantly higher (by two- to three-fold) than from WT mice. In spinal microglia and somatosensory cortical neurones, where AdipoR1 is mainly located, p-p38 MAPK and TRPV1 were also higher (by two- to three-fold) in KO compared with WT mice, and altered signalling of these molecules was exacerbated (1.2- to 1.3-fold) by pSNL.

Conclusions: Our results show that adiponectin regulates thermal nociceptive sensitivity by inhibiting activation of DRG neurones, spinal microglia, and somatosensory cortical neurones in physiological and neuropathic pain states. This study has relevance for patients with adiponectin disorders, such as obesity and diabetes.

Keywords: adiponectin; hyperalgesia; neuralgia; neuroinflammation; p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase.

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / deficiency
  • Adiponectin / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hot Temperature
  • Hyperalgesia / metabolism
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neuralgia / metabolism
  • Neuralgia / physiopathology*
  • Nociception / physiology*
  • Receptors, Adiponectin / physiology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism


  • Adiponectin
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Receptors, Adiponectin
  • adiponectin receptor 1, mouse
  • adiponectin receptor 2, mouse
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases