Analgesic effect of recombinant GABAergic cells in a model of peripheral neuropathic pain

Stanislava Jergova, Shyam Gajavelli, Mathew S. Varghese, Paul Shekane, Jacqueline Sagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Chronic neuropathic pain represents a clinically challenging state with a poor response to current treatment options. Long-term management of chronic pain is often associated with the development of tolerance, addiction, and other side effects, reducing the therapeutic value of treatment. Alternative strategies based on cell therapy and gene manipulation, balancing the inhibitory and excitatory events in the spinal cord, may provide sustained pain relief in the long term. Transplantation of GABAergic cells has been successfully used to enhance inhibition and to restore physiological spinal pain processing. However, since the underlying mechanism of chronic pain development involves changes in several pain-signaling pathways, it is essential to develop an approach that targets several components of pain signaling. Recombinant cell therapy offers the possibility to deliver additional analgesic substances to the restricted area in the nervous system. The current study explores the analgesic potential of genetically modified rat embryonic GABAergic cells releasing a peptidergic NMDA receptor antagonist, Serine1-histogranin (SHG). Overactivation of glutamate NMDA receptors contributes to the hyperexcitability of spinal neurons observed in chronic pain models. Our approach allows us to simultaneously target spinal hyperexcitability and reduced inhibitory processes. Transplantable cells were transduced by viral vectors encoding either one or six copies of SHG cDNAs. The analgesic potential of recombinant cells after their intraspinal transplantation was evaluated in a model of peripheral nerve injury. Enhanced reduction of hypersensitivity to thermal and mechanical stimuli was observed in animals treated by recombinant cells compared to the nonrecombinant group. The recombinant peptide was detected in the spinal tissue, suggesting its successful production by transplanted cells. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of using recombinant cells releasing adjunct analgesic peptides in the therapy of neuropathic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-643
Number of pages15
JournalCell transplantation
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016


  • Chronic pain
  • GABA
  • Neuronal progenitor cells
  • Recombinant cells
  • Serine1-histogranin (SHG)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation


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