The development and maintenance of paclitaxel-induced neuropathic pain require activation of the sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor subtype 1

Kali Janes, Joshua W. Little, Chao Li, Leesa Bryant, Collin Chen, Zhoumou Chen, Krzysztof Kamocki, Timothy Doyle, Ashley Snider, Emanuela Esposito, Salvatore Cuzzocrea, Erhard Bieberich, Lina Obeid, Irina Petrache, Grant Nicol, William L. Neumann, Daniela Salvemini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


The ceramide-sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) rheostat is important in regulating cell fate. Several chemotherapeutic agents, including paclitaxel (Taxol), involve pro-apoptotic ceramide in their anticancer effects. The ceramide-to-S1P pathway is also implicated in the development of pain, raising the intriguing possibility that these sphingolipids may contribute to chemotherapyinduced painful peripheral neuropathy, which can be a critical dose-limiting side effect of many widely used chemotherapeutic agents.Wedemonstrate that the development of paclitaxel-induced neuropathic pain was associated with ceramide and S1P formation in the spinal dorsal horn that corresponded with the engagement of S1P receptor subtype 1 (S1PR 1)-dependent neuroinflammatory processes as follows: activation of redox-sensitive transcription factors (NFκB) and MAPKs (ERK and p38) as well as enhanced formation of pro-inflammatory and neuroexcitatory cytokines (TNF-α and IL-1β). Intrathecal delivery of the S1PR1 antagonist W146 reduced these neuroinflammatory processes but increased IL-10 and IL-4, potent anti-inflammatory/neuroprotective cytokines. Additionally, spinal W146 reversed established neuropathic pain. Noteworthy, systemic administration of the S1PR1 modulator FTY720 (Food and Drug Administrationapproved for multiple sclerosis) attenuated the activation of these neuroinflammatory processes and abrogated neuropathic pain without altering anticancer properties of paclitaxel and with beneficial effects extended to oxaliplatin. Similar effects were observed with other structurally and chemically unrelated S1PR1 modulators (ponesimod and CYM-5442) and S1PR1 antagonists (NIBR-14/15) but not S1PR1 agonists (SEW2871). Our findings identify for the first time the S1P/S1PR1 axis as a promising molecular and therapeutic target in chemotherapy-induced painful peripheral neuropathy, establish a mechanistic insight into the biomolecular signaling pathways, and provide the rationale for the clinical evaluation of FTY720 in chronic pain patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21082-21097
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number30
StatePublished - Jul 25 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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