Intrathecal polymer-based interleukin-10* gene delivery for neuropathic pain

Erin D. Milligan, Ryan G. Soderquist, Stephanie M. Malone, John H. Mahoney, Travis S. Hughes, Stephen J. Langer, Evan M. Sloane, Steven F. Maier, Leslie A. Leinwand, Linda R. Watkins, Melissa J. Mahoney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Research on communication between glia and neurons has increased in the past decade. The onset of neuropathic pain, a major clinical problem that is not resolved by available therapeutics, involves activation of spinal cord glia through the release of proinflammatory cytokines in acute animal models of neuropathic pain. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that the spinal action of the proinflammatory cytokine, interleukin 1 (IL-1) is involved in maintaining persistent (2 months) allodynia induced by chronic-constriction injury (CCI). The anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 can suppress proinflammatory cytokines and spinal cord glial amplification of pain. Given that IL-1 is a key mediator of neuropathic pain, developing a clinically viable means of long-term delivery of IL-10 to the spinal cord is desirable. High doses of intrathecal IL-10-gene therapy using naked plasmid DNA (free pDNA-IL-10) is effective, but the dose required limits its potential clinical utility. Here we show that intrathecal gene therapy for neuropathic pain is improved sufficiently using two, distinct synthetic polymers, poly(lactic-co-glycolic) and polyethylenimine, that substantially lower doses of pDNA-IL-10 are effective. In conclusion, synthetic polymers used as i.t. gene-delivery systems are well-tolerated and improve the long-duration efficacy of pDNA-IL-10 gene therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-308
Number of pages16
JournalNeuron Glia Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Allodynia
  • Chronic constriction injury
  • Gene therapy
  • Glia
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Polymer plasmid-DNA
  • Rats


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