PDL1 is a protein that induces immunosuppression by binding to PD1 expressed on immune cells. In line with historical studies, we found that membrane-bound PD1 expression was largely restricted to immune cells; PD1 was not detectable at either the mRNA or protein level in peripheral neurons using single neuron qPCR, immunolabeling and flow cytometry. However, we observed widespread expression of PDL1 in both sensory and sympathetic neurons that could have important implications for patients receiving immunotherapies targeting this pathway that include unexpected autonomic and sensory related effects. While signaling pathways downstream of PD1 are well established, little to no information is available regarding the intracellular signaling downstream of membrane-bound PDL1 (also known as reverse signaling). Here, we administered soluble PD1 to engage neuronally expressed PDL1 and found that PD1 significantly reduced nocifensive behaviors evoked by algogenic capsaicin. We used calcium imaging to examine the underlying neural mechanism of this reduction and found that exogenous PD1 diminished TRPV1-dependent calcium transients in dissociated sensory neurons. Furthermore, we observed a reduction in membrane expression of TRPV1 following administration of PD1. Exogenous PD1 had no effect on pain-related behaviors in sensory neuron specific PDL1 knockout mice. These data indicate that neuronal PDL1 activation is sufficient to modulate sensitivity to noxious stimuli and as such, may be an important homeostatic mechanism for regulating acute nociception.
Keywords: Analgesia; DRG; Neuroimmune; Nociceptor sensitization; Reverse signaling; Sex difference.
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