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Keywords:

  • GLT-1;
  • nociception;
  • calcium imaging;
  • glutamate transporter current

Excessive activation of glutamate receptors in spinal dorsal horn neurons is a key mechanism leading to abnormal neuronal activation in pathological pain conditions. Previous studies have shown that activation of glutamate receptors in the spinal dorsal horn is enhanced by impaired glial glutamate transporter functions and proinflammatory cytokines including interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β). In this study, we for the first time revealed that spinal glial glutamate transporter activities in the neuropathic animals are attenuated by endogenous IL-1β. Specifically, we demonstrated that nerve injury results in an increased expression of IL-1β and activation of PKC in the spinal dorsal horn as well as suppression of glial glutamate uptake activities. We provided evidence that the nerve-injury induced suppression of glial glutamate uptake is at least in part ascribed to endogenous IL-1β and activation of PKC in the spinal dorsal horn. IL-1β reduces glial glutamate transporter activities through enhancing the endocytosis of both GLT-1 and GLAST glial glutamate transporters. The IL-1β induced trafficking of glial glutamate transporters is through the calcium/PKC signaling pathway, and the dynamin-dependent endocytosis, which is dependent on the integrity of actin filaments. The signaling pathway regulating glial glutamate transporters revealed in this study provides novel targets to attenuate aberrant activation of glutamate receptors in the spinal dorsal horn, which could ultimately help the development of analgesics. GLIA 2014;62:1093–1109