Upregulation of neuronal kynurenine 3-monooxygenase mediates depression-like behavior in a mouse model of neuropathic pain

Geoffroy Laumet, Wenjun Zhou, Robert Dantzer, Jules D. Edralin, Xiao Jiao Huo, David P. Budac, Jason C. O'Connor, Anna W. Lee, Cobi J. Heijnen, Annemieke Kavelaars

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Pain and depression often co-occur, but the underlying mechanisms have not been elucidated. Here, we used the spared nerve injury (SNI) model in mice to induce both neuropathic pain and depression-like behavior. We investigated whether brain interleukin (IL)-1 signaling and activity of kynurenine 3-monoxygenase (KMO), a key enzyme for metabolism of kynurenine into the neurotoxic NMDA receptor agonist quinolinic acid, are necessary for comorbid neuropathic pain and depression-like behavior. SNI mice showed increased expression levels of Il1b and Kmo mRNA in the contralateral side of the brain. The SNI-induced increase of Kmo mRNA was associated with increased KMO protein and elevated quinolinic acid and reduced kynurenic acid in the contralateral hippocampus. The increase in KMO-protein in response to SNI mostly took place in hippocampal NeuN-positive neurons rather than microglia. Inhibition of brain IL-1 signaling by intracerebroventricular administration of IL-1 receptor antagonist after SNI prevented the increase in Kmo mRNA and depression-like behavior measured by forced swim test. However, inhibition of brain IL-1 signaling has no effect on mechanical allodynia. In addition, intracerebroventricular administration of the KMO inhibitor Ro 61-8048 abrogated depression-like behavior without affecting mechanical allodynia after SNI. We show for the first time that the development of depression-like behavior in the SNI model requires brain IL-1 signaling and activation of neuronal KMO, while pain is independent of this pathway. Inhibition of KMO may represent a promising target for treating depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-102
Number of pages9
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Comorbidity
  • Depression
  • Hippocampus
  • Interleukin-1
  • Kynurenine 3-monooxygenase
  • Kynurenine pathway
  • Pain
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Quinolinic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Immunology


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