Therapeutic potential for leukocyte elastase in chronic pain states harboring a neuropathic component
Neuropathic pain is an integral component of several chronic pain conditions and poses a major health problem worldwide. Despite emerging understanding of mechanisms behind neuropathic pain, the available treatment options are still limited in efficacy or associated with side effects, therefore making it necessary to find viable alternatives. In a genetic screen, we recently identified SerpinA3N, a serine protease inhibitor secreted in response to nerve damage by the dorsal root ganglion neurons and we showed that SerpinA3N acts against induction of neuropathic pain by inhibiting the T-cell- and neutrophil-derived protease, leucocyte elastase (LE). In the current study, via detailed in vivo pharmacology combined with analyses of evoked- and spontaneous pain-related behaviors in mice, we report that on systemic delivery, a single dose of 3 independent LE inhibitors can block established nociceptive hypersensitivity in early and late phases in the spared nerve injury model of traumatic neuropathic pain in mice. We further report the strong efficacy of systemic LE inhibitors in reversing ongoing pain in 2 other clinically relevant mouse models—painful diabetic neuropathy and cancer pain. Detailed immunohistochemical analyses on the peripheral tissue samples revealed that both T-Lymphocytes and neutrophils are the sources of LE on peripheral nerve injury, whereas neutrophils are the primary source of LE in diabetic neuropathic conditions. In summary, our results provide compelling evidence for a strong therapeutic potential of generic LE inhibitors for the treatment of neuropathic pain and other chronic pain conditions harboring a neuropathic pain component.