Recombinant neural progenitor transplants in the spinal dorsal horn alleviate chronic central neuropathic pain

Stanislava Jergova, Shyam Gajavelli, Nirmal Pathak, Jacqueline Sagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Neuropathic pain induced by spinal cord injury (SCI) is clinically challenging with inadequate long-term treatment options. Partial pain relief offered by pharmacologic treatment is often counterbalanced by adverse effects after prolonged use in chronic pain patients. Cell-based therapy for neuropathic pain using GABAergic neuronal progenitor cells (NPCs) has the potential to overcome untoward effects of systemic pharmacotherapy while enhancing analgesic potency due to local activation of GABAergic signaling in the spinal cord. However, multifactorial anomalies underlying chronic pain will likely require simultaneous targeting of multiple mechanisms. Here, we explore the analgesic potential of genetically modified rat embryonic GABAergic NPCs releasing a peptidergic NMDA receptor antagonist, Serine-histogranin (SHG), thus targeting both spinal hyperexcitability and reduced inhibitory processes. Recombinant NPCs were designed using either lentiviral or adeno-associated viral vectors (AAV2/8) encoding single and multimeric (6 copies of SHG) cDNA. Intraspinal injection of recombinant cells elicited enhanced analgesic effects compared with nonrecombinant NPCs in SCI-induced pain in rats. Moreover, potent and sustained antinociception was achieved, even after a 5-week postinjury delay, using recombinant multimeric NPCs. Intrathecal injection of SHG antibody attenuated analgesic effects of the recombinant grafts suggesting active participation of SHG in these antinociceptive effects. Immunoblots and immunocytochemical assays indicated ongoing recombinant peptide production and secretion in the grafted host spinal cords. These results support the potential for engineered NPCs grafted into the spinal dorsal horn to alleviate chronic neuropathic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)977-989
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Cell therapy
  • GABA
  • Gene therapy
  • NMDA
  • Neuropathic pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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