Endoplasmic reticulum stress in the peripheral nervous system is a significant driver of neuropathic pain

Bora Inceoglu, Ahmed Bettaieb, Carlos A. Trindade Da Silva, Kin Sing Stephen Lee, Fawaz Haj, Bruce D. Hammock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Despite intensive effort and resulting gains in understanding the mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain, limited success in therapeutic approaches have been attained. A recently identified, nonchannel, nonneurotransmitter therapeutic target for pain is the enzyme soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH). The sEH degrades natural analgesic lipid mediators, epoxy fatty acids (EpFAs), therefore its inhibition stabilizes these bioactive mediators. Here we demonstrate the effects of EpFAs on diabetes induced neuropathic pain and define a previously unknown mechanism of pain, regulated by endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. The activation of ER stress is first quantified in the peripheral nervous system of type I diabetic rats. We demonstrate that both pain and markers of ER stress are reversed by a chemical chaperone. Next, we identify the EpFAs as upstream modulators of ER stress pathways. Chemical inducers of ER stress invariably lead to pain behavior that is reversed by a chemical chaperone and an inhibitor of sEH. The rapid occurrence of pain behavior with inducers, equally rapid reversal by blockers and natural incidence of ER stress in diabetic peripheral nervous system (PNS) argue for a major role of the ER stress pathways in regulating the excitability of the nociceptive system. Understanding the role of ER stress in generation and maintenance of pain opens routes to exploit this system for therapeutic purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9082-9087
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 21 2015


  • Diabetes
  • Endoplasmic reticulum stress
  • Pain
  • Soluble epoxide hydrolase
  • Tunicamycin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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