Dorsal Root Ganglia Macrophages Maintain Osteoarthritis Pain

R Raoof, CM Gil, FPJG Lafeber, ET AL

enter for Translational Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Journal of Neuroscience

Pain is the major debilitating symptom of osteoarthritis (OA), which is difficult to treat. In OA patients joint tissue damage only poorly associates with pain, indicating other mechanisms contribute to OA pain. Immune cells regulate the sensory system, but little is known about the involvement of immune cells in OA pain. Here, we report that macrophages accumulate in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) distant from the site of injury in two rodent models of OA. DRG macrophages acquired an M1-like phenotype, and depletion of DRG macrophages resolved OA pain in male and female mice. Sensory neurons innervating the damaged knee joint shape DRG macrophages into an M1-like phenotype. Persisting OA pain, accumulation of DRG macrophages, and programming of DRG macrophages into an M1-like phenotype were independent of Nav1.8 nociceptors. Inhibition of M1-like macrophages in the DRG by intrathecal injection of an IL4-IL10 fusion protein or M2-like macrophages resolved persistent OA pain. In conclusion, these findings reveal a crucial role for macrophages in maintaining OA pain independent of the joint damage and suggest a new direction to treat OA pain.

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