Neuroendocrine mechanisms governing sex differences in hyperalgesic priming involve prolactin receptor sensory neuron signaling

Candler Paige, Priscilla A. Barba-Escobedo, Jennifer Mecklenburg, Mayur Patil, Vincent Goffin, David R. Grattan, Gregory Dussor, Armen N. Akopian, Theodore J. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Many clinical and preclinical studies report higher prevalence and severity of chronic pain in females. We used hyperalgesic priming with interleukin 6 (IL-6) priming and PGE2 as a second stimulus as a model for pain chronicity. Intraplantar IL-6 induced hypersensitivity was similar in magnitude and duration in both males and females, while both paw and intrathecal PGE2 hypersensitivity was more persistent in females. This difference in PGE2 response was dependent on both circulating estrogen and translation regulation signaling in the spinal cord. In males, the duration of hypersensitivity was regulated by testosterone. Since the prolactin receptor (Prlr) is regulated by reproductive hormones and is female-selectively activated in sensory neurons, we evaluated whether Prlr signaling contributes to hyperalgesic priming. Using DPRL, a competitive Prlr antagonist, and a mouse line with ablated Prlr in the Nav1.8 sensory neuronal population, we show that Prlr in sensory neurons is necessary for the development of hyperalgesic priming in female, but not male, mice. Overall, sex-specific mechanisms in the initiation and maintenance of chronic pain are regulated by the neuroendocrine system and, specifically, sensory neuronal Prlr signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7080-7090
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 9 2020


  • Estrogen
  • Nociceptor
  • Prolactin
  • Sex dimorphism
  • Testosterone
  • Translation regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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