Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is one of the most common genetic diseases, affecting roughly 1 in 3000 individuals. As a multisystem disorder, it affects cognitive development, as well as bone, nerve and muscle constitution. Peripheral neuropathy in NF1 constitutes a potentially severe clinical complication and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. The discovery of effective therapies for Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) pain depends on mechanistic understanding that has been limited, in part, by the relative lack of availability of animal models relevant to NF1 pain. We have used intrathecal targeted editing of Nf1 in rats to provide direct evidence of a causal relationship between neurofibromin and pain responses. We demonstrated that editing of neurofibromin results in functional remodeling of peripheral nociceptors characterized by enhancement of interactions of the tetrodotoxin-sensitive (TTX-S) Na+voltage-gated sodium channel (NaV1.7) and the collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP2). Collectively, these peripheral adaptations increase sensory neuron excitability and release of excitatory transmitters to the spinal dorsal horn to establish and maintain a state of central sensitization reflected by hyperalgesia to mechanical stimulation of the hindpaw. The data presented here shows that CRMP2 inhibition is sufficient to reverse the dysregulations of voltage-gated ion channels and neurotransmitter release observed after Nf1 gene editing. The concordance in normalization of ion channel dysregulation by a CRMP2-directed strategy and of hyperalgesia supports the translational targeting of CRMP2 to curb NF1-related pain.
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