Peripheral nerve injury can induce pathological conditions that lead to persistent sensitized nociception. Although there is evidence that plastic changes in the cortex contribute to this process, the underlying molecular mechanisms are unclear. Here, we find that activation of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) induced by peripheral nerve injury increases the turnover of specific synaptic proteins in a persistent manner. We demonstrate that neural cell adhesion molecule 1 (NCAM1) is one of the molecules involved and show that it mediates spine reorganization and contributes to the behavioral sensitization. We show striking parallels in the underlying mechanism with the maintenance of NMDA-receptor- and protein-synthesis-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) in the ACC. Our results, therefore, demonstrate a synaptic mechanism for cortical reorganization and suggest potential avenues for neuropathic pain treatment.
- protein turnover
- synaptic reorganization
- neural cell adhesion molecule 1
- neuropathic pain