New research published online in the journal Neuron may offer leads to improved understanding of neuropathic pain. The authors identified a novel protein expressed specifically in nociceptors that acts as a key player in analgesic signaling through GABAB receptors. The protein, Gα inhibitory interacting protein (GINIP), could offer a new line of attack to boost GABA transmission by targeting peripheral neurons selectively, possibly avoiding side effects of system-wide GABAB activation.
With neuropathic pain, the spinal cord suffers a loss of signaling by GABA, the nervous system’s main inhibitory transmitter. GABA receptors have thus seemed a likely target to dampen neuropathic hyperexcitability, but considerable efforts toward that aim have largely failed, mainly because GABA receptors are found throughout the nervous system. Because GINIP is restricted to nociceptors—the neurons relevant to neuropathic pain—targeting the GABAB-GINIP interaction may facilitate the development of a new therapeutic agent that specifically interferes with GABAB signaling related to pain.
Read a news story about the findings here.