Upregulation of neuronal nitric oxide synthase in the periphery promotes pain hypersensitivity after peripheral nerve injury

K. H. Kim, J. I. Kim, J. A. Han, M. A. Choe, J. H. Ahn

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31 Scopus citations


Peripheral nerve injury often results in neuropathic pain that is manifested as hyperalgesia, and allodynia. Several studies suggest a functional role for neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) in the development or maintenance of neuropathic pain, but such a contribution remains unclear. In our current study, we found that intraplantar injection of the NOS substrate l-arginine or NO donor 3-morpholino-synonimine (SIN-1) produced mechanical hypersensitivity that lasted more than 24 h. Following L5 spinal nerve ligation (L5 SNL), immunoreactivity for nNOS in the ipsilateral L5 but not L4 dorsal root ganglion (DRG) was dramatically increased in mainly small- and medium-sized neurons and non-neuronal cells. L5 SNL caused increased nNOS immunoreactivity in the ipsilateral sciatic nerve, mainly in Schwann cells and the ipsilateral glabrous hind paw skin, mainly on the basement membrane. Furthermore, total nNOS protein and mRNA in the ipsilateral sciatic nerve and hind paw skin were markedly upregulated following nerve injury. Intraplantar injection of the NOS inhibitor 7-nitroindazole (7-NI) or the non-specific NOS inhibitor l-N G-nitro-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME) effectively suppressed SNL-induced mechanical allodynia. Collectively, these data suggest that in the periphery nNOS upregulation induced by peripheral nerve injury contributes to mechanical hypersensitivity during the maintenance phase of neuropathic pain. Blocking nNOS signaling in the periphery may thus be a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of neuropathic pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-378
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 5 Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF) grant AQ2 funded by the Korean government (MOST; R01-2007-000-10573-0).


  • Mechanical allodynia
  • Neuronal nitric oxide synthase
  • Nitric oxide
  • Peripheral nerve injury
  • Periphery


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