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Open Access Research

The chemerin receptor 23 agonist, chemerin, attenuates monosynaptic C-fibre input to lamina I neurokinin 1 receptor expressing rat spinal cord neurons in inflammatory pain

Allen C Dickie and Carole Torsney*

Author Affiliations

Centre for Integrative Physiology, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

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Molecular Pain 2014, 10:24  doi:10.1186/1744-8069-10-24

Published: 9 April 2014



Recent evidence has shown that the chemerin receptor 23 (ChemR23) represents a novel inflammatory pain target, whereby the ChemR23 agonists, resolvin E1 and chemerin, can inhibit inflammatory pain hypersensitivity, by a mechanism that involves normalisation of potentiated spinal cord responses. This study has examined the ability of the ChemR23 agonist, chemerin, to modulate synaptic input to lamina I neurokinin 1 receptor expressing (NK1R+) dorsal horn neurons, which are known to be crucial for the manifestation of inflammatory pain.


Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from pre-identified lamina I NK1R+ neurons, in rat spinal cord slices, revealed that chemerin significantly attenuates capsaicin potentiation of miniature excitatory postsynaptic current (mEPSC) frequency, but is without effect in non-potentiated conditions. In tissue isolated from complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) treated rats, chemerin significantly reduced the peak amplitude of monosynaptic C-fibre evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents (eEPSCs) in a subset of lamina I NK1R+ neurons, termed chemerin responders. However, chemerin did not alter the peak amplitude of monosynaptic C-fibre eEPSCs in control tissue. Furthermore, paired-pulse recordings in CFA tissue demonstrated that chemerin significantly reduced paired-pulse depression in the subset of neurons classified as chemerin responders, but was without effect in non-responders, indicating that chemerin acts presynaptically to attenuate monosynaptic C-fibre input to a subset of lamina I NK1R+ neurons.


These results suggest that the reported ability of ChemR23 agonists to attenuate inflammatory pain hypersensitivity may in part be due to a presynaptic inhibition of monosynaptic C-fibre input to lamina I NK1R+ neurons and provides further evidence that ChemR23 represents a promising inflammatory pain target.

Dorsal horn; Lamina I; NK1R; Projection neurons; Chemerin; ChemR23; Inflammatory pain; Resolvins