High-mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) has been shown to be critical in the modulation of nociceptive transduction following a peripheral neuropathy. However, the precise role of peripherally expressed HMGB1 in neuropathic pain has yet to be fully elaborated. Following a partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSNL) in mice, a persistent ipsilateral up-regulation of HMGB1 was observed from 3 to 21days after PSNL, in paralleled with a robust ipsilateral hind paw mechanical hypersensitivity. Increased HMGB1 was detected in both infiltrating macrophages and proliferating Schwann cells in the ipsilateral nerve 14days following PSNL. Repeated perineural treatment with anti-HMGB1 antibody significantly ameliorated PSNL-induced mechanical hypersensitivity. Several pronociceptive molecules, including matrix metalloprotease-9 (MMP-9), tumor necrosis factor-, interleukin-1 (IL-1), and cyclooxygenase-2, were up-regulated in injured sciatic nerve 14days following PSNL. Repeated perineural treatment with an anti-HMGB1 antibody significantly suppressed expression of MMP-9, but not other pronociceptive molecules. Perineural treatment with a selective MMP-9 inhibitor ameliorated PSNL-induced mechanical hypersensitivity. The current findings demonstrate that the maintenance of the neuropathic state following an injured nerve is dependent on the up-regulation of HMGB1 and MMP-9. Thus, blocking HMGB1 function in sciatic nerve could be a potent therapeutic strategy for the treatment of neuropathic pain.
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