Peripheral gating of pain by glial endozepine

Xinmeng Li, Arthur Silveira Prudente, Vincenzo Prato, Xianchuan Guo, Han Hao, Frederick Jones, Sofia Figoli, Pierce Mullen, Yujin Wang, Raquel Tonnello, Sang Hoon Lee, Shihab Shah, Benito Maffei, Temugin Berta*, Xiaona Du*, Nikita Gamper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paperPreprint


We report that diazepam binding inhibitor (DBI) is a glial messenger mediating satellite glia-sensory neuron crosstalk in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG). DBI is highly and specifically expressed in satellite glia cells (SGCs) of mice, rat and human, but not in sensory neurons or other DRG-resident cells. Knockdown of DBI results in a robust mechanical hypersensitivity without significant effects on other sensory modalities. In vivo overexpression of DBI in SGCs reduces sensitivity to mechanical stimulation and alleviates mechanical allodynia in neuropathic and inflammatory pain models. We further show that DBI acts as a partial agonist and positive allosteric modulator at the neuronal GABAA receptors, particularly strongly effecting those with a high-affinity benzodiazepine binding site. Such receptors are selectively expressed by a subpopulation of mechanosensitive DRG neurons and these are also more enwrapped with DBI-expressing glia, as compared to other DRG neurons, suggesting a mechanism for specific effect of DBI on mechanosensation. These findings identified a new, peripheral neuron-glia communication mechanism modulating pain signalling, which can be targeted therapeutically.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2023


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