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Lauria G.,IRCCS Foundation Carlo Besta Neurological Institute | Ziegler D.,Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf | Malik R.,Cornell College | Malik R.,University of Manchester | And 5 more authors.
Current Diabetes Reports | Year: 2014

Painful neuropathies are frequently encountered in clinical practice as an early or late complication of several systemic disorders. Among them, diabetes is one of the most important due to its epidemiology and the relevance for regulatory agencies in the assessment of efficacy of new analgesics. However, the presentation and course of painful neuropathies, as well as the response to available drugs, are highly variable and unpredictable, posing significant challenges in the management of patients. Experimental and clinical studies have suggested that polymorphisms and mutations in pain-related genes are involved in the facilitation or inhibition of nociception, and might modulate neuropathic pain and the response to analgesics in patients. Voltage-gated sodium channel genes are among the most relevant, due to the key role of these membrane proteins in the physiology of nociception and their involvement in the pathogenesis of idiopathic painful small fiber neuropathies. These compelling features make sodium channel candidate targets for a novel approach to painful diabetic and idiopathic neuropathies, which will hopefully allow a new classification of patients and more effective targeted treatments. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


Brouwer B.A.,Maastricht University | Merkies I.S.J.,Maastricht University | Gerrits M.M.,Maastricht University | Waxman S.G.,Yale University | And 3 more authors.
Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System | Year: 2014

Pain is a frequent debilitating feature reported in peripheral neuropathies with involvement of small nerve (Aδ and C) fibers. Voltage-gated sodium channels are responsible for the generation and conduction of action potentials in the peripheral nociceptive neuronal pathway where NaV1.7, NaV1.8, and NaV1.9 sodium channels (encoded by SCN9A, SCN10A, and SCN11A) are preferentially expressed. The human genetic pain conditions inherited erythromelalgia and paroxysmal extreme pain disorder were the first to be linked to gain-of-function SCN9A mutations. Recent studies have expanded this spectrum with gain-of-function SCN9A mutations in patients with small fiber neuropathy and in a new syndrome of pain, dysautonomia, and small hands and small feet (acromesomelia). In addition, painful neuropathies have been recently linked to SCN10A mutations. Patch-clamp studies have shown that the effect of SCN9A mutations is dependent upon the cell-type background. The functional effects of a mutation in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and sympathetic neuron cells may differ per mutation, reflecting the pattern of expression of autonomic symptoms in patients with painful neuropathies who carry the mutation in question. Peripheral neuropathies may not always be length-dependent, as demonstrated in patients with initial facial and scalp pain symptoms with SCN9A mutations showing hyperexcitability in both trigeminal ganglion and DRG neurons. There is some evidence suggesting that gain-of-function SCN9A mutations can lead to degeneration of peripheral axons. This review will focus on the emerging role of sodium channelopathies in painful peripheral neuropathies, which could serve as a basis for novel therapeutic strategies. © 2014 Peripheral Nerve Society.


Faber C.G.,Maastricht University | Hoeijmakers J.G.J.,Maastricht University | Ahn H.-S.,Yale University | Ahn H.-S.,Center for Neuroscience and Regeneration Research | And 18 more authors.
Annals of Neurology | Year: 2012

Objective: Small nerve fiber neuropathy (SFN) often occurs without apparent cause, but no systematic genetic studies have been performed in patients with idiopathic SFN (I-SFN). We sought to identify a genetic basis for I-SFN by screening patients with biopsy-confirmed idiopathic SFN for mutations in the SCN9A gene, encoding voltage-gated sodium channel Na V1.7, which is preferentially expressed in small diameter peripheral axons. Methods: Patients referred with possible I-SFN, who met the criteria of â¥2 SFN-related symptoms, normal strength, tendon reflexes, vibration sense, and nerve conduction studies, and reduced intraepidermal nerve fiber density (IENFD) plus abnormal quantitative sensory testing (QST) and no underlying etiology for SFN, were assessed clinically and by screening of SCN9A for mutations and functional analyses. Results: Twenty-eight patients who met stringent criteria for I-SFN including abnormal IENFD and QST underwent SCN9A gene analyses. Of these 28 patients with biopsy-confirmed I-SFN, 8 were found to carry novel mutations in SCN9A. Functional analysis revealed multiple gain of function changes in the mutant channels; each of the mutations rendered dorsal root ganglion neurons hyperexcitable. Interpretation: We show for the first time that gain of function mutations in sodium channel Na V1.7, which render dorsal root ganglion neurons hyperexcitable, are present in a substantial proportion (28.6%; 8 of 28) of patients meeting strict criteria for I-SFN. These results point to a broader role of Na V1.7 mutations in neurological disease than previously considered from studies on rare genetic syndromes, and suggest an etiological basis for I-SFN, whereby expression of gain of function mutant sodium channels in small diameter peripheral axons may cause these fibers to degenerate. Copyright © 2011 American Neurological Association.


Black J.A.,Yale University | Black J.A.,Center for Neuroscience and Regeneration Research | Hoeijmakers J.G.J.,Maastricht University | Faber C.G.,Maastricht University | And 3 more authors.
Molecular Pain | Year: 2013

Background: NaV1.7 is preferentially expressed, at relatively high levels, in peripheral neurons, and is often referred to as a " peripheral" sodium channel, and NaV1.7-specific blockers are under study as potential pain therapeutics which might be expected to have minimal CNS side effects. However, occasional reports of patients with NaV1.7 gain-of-function mutations and apparent hypothalamic dysfunction have appeared. The two sodium channels previously studied within the rat hypothalamic supraoptic nucleus, NaV1.2 and NaV1.6, display up-regulated expression in response to osmotic stress.Results: Here we show that NaV1.7 is present within vasopressin-producing neurons and oxytocin-producing neurons within the rat hypothalamus, and demonstrate that the level of Nav1.7 immunoreactivity is increased in these cells in response to osmotic stress.Conclusions: NaV1.7 is present within neurosecretory neurons of rat supraoptic nucleus, where the level of immunoreactivity is dynamic, increasing in response to osmotic stress. Whether NaV1.7 levels are up-regulated within the human hypothalamus in response to environmental factors or stress, and whether NaV1.7 plays a functional role in human hypothalamus, is not yet known. Until these questions are resolved, the present findings suggest the need for careful assessment of hypothalamic function in patients with NaV1.7 mutations, especially when subjected to stress, and for monitoring of hypothalamic function as NaV1.7 blocking agents are studied. © 2013 Black et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Hoeijmakers J.,Maastricht University | Merkies I.,Maastricht University | Gerrits M.,Maastricht University | Waxman S.,Yale University | And 2 more authors.
Clinical Genetics | Year: 2012

Small fiber neuropathy (SFN) is a disorder typically dominated by neuropathic pain and autonomic dysfunction, in which the thinly myelinated Aδ-fibers and unmyelinated C-fibers are selectively injured. The diagnosis SFN is based on a reduced intraepidermal nerve fiber density and/or abnormal thermal thresholds in quantitative sensory testing. The etiologies of SFN are diverse, although no apparent cause is frequently seen. Recently, SCN9A-gene variants (single amino acid substitutions) have been found in ∼30% of a cohort of idiopathic SFN patients, producing gain-of-function changes in sodium channel NaV1.7, which is preferentially expressed in small diameter peripheral axons. Functional testing showed that these variants altered fast inactivation, slow inactivation or resurgent current and rendered dorsal root ganglion neurons hyperexcitable. In this review, we discuss the role of NaV1.7 in pain and highlight the molecular genetics and pathophysiology of SCN9A-gene variants in SFN. With increasing knowledge regarding the underlying pathophysiology in SFN, the development of specific treatment in these patients seems a logical target for future studies. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

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