Celastrol attenuates incision-induced inflammation and pain associated with inhibition of the NF-κB signalling pathway via SARM

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This study aimed to investigate whether celastrol (CEL) could alleviate incision-induced pain and decipher its possible mechanism.

Materials and methods:

Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into five groups: naïve, vehicle, CEL (5 μg/paw, 10 μg/paw and 20 μg/paw). CEL or vehicle was administered intraplantarly before plantar surgical incision. Histological examinations of skin tissues were performed after HE staining. Additionally, immunohistochemical staining, RT-PCR and western blot were performed to analyse macrophages, proinflammatory cytokines, SARM and NF-κB expression, respectively. Moreover, the previous mentioned factors were re-evaluated after suppressing SARM expression by shRNA.

Key findings:

The plantar incision rats displayed pain-related behaviours and inflammatory infiltration in the skin. The mRNA levels of proinflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNFα were significantly upregulated in the skin of surgical rats. The expression of sterile α- and armadillo-motif-containing protein (SARM) was downregulated and nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB) was activated. Interestingly, CEL could partially restore the pain-related behavioural changes. Furthermore, molecular mechanism of CEL was explored, that included significantly reduction of proinflammatory cytokines mRNA expressions, a significant decrease of p-p65 and p65 levels and a markedly increase of SARM and IkBα expressions in skin tissues. However, supression SARM by shRNA partially eliminated those protective effect of CEL.


Our data suggest that intraplantarly administration of CEL attenuates inflammatory and acute pain. This finding could be attributed to regulation of the NF-κB signalling pathway via SARM. These results provide pre-clinical evidence supporting the use of CEL in the treatment of surgical pain.

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