Melatonin Relieves Paclitaxel-Induced Neuropathic Pain by Regulating pNEK2-Dependent Epigenetic Pathways in DRG Neurons

Ming Chun Hsieh, Cheng Yuan Lai, Li Ting Lin, Dylan Chou, Chou Ming Yeh, Jen Kun Cheng, Hsueh Hsiao Wang, Kuan Hung Lin, Tzer Bin Lin, Hsien Yu Peng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The neurohormone melatonin (MLT) demonstrates promising potential in ameliorating neuropathic pain induced by paclitaxel (PTX) chemotherapy. However, little is known about its protective effect on dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in neuropathic pain resulting from the chemotherapeutic drug PTX. Here, PTX-treated rats revealed that intrathecal administration of MLT dose-dependently elevated hind paw withdrawal thresholds and latency, indicating that MLT significantly reversed PTX-induced neuropathic pain. Mechanistically, the analgesic effects of MLT were found to be mediated via melatonin receptor 2 (MT2), as pretreatment with an MT2 receptor antagonist inhibited these effects. Moreover, intrathecal MLT injection reversed the pNEK2-dependent epigenetic program induced by PTX. All of the effects caused by MLT were blocked by pretreatment with an MT2 receptor-selective antagonist, 4P-PDOT. Remarkably, multiple MLT administered during PTX treatment (PTX+MLTs) exhibited not only rapid but also lasting reversal of allodynia/hyperalgesia compared to single-bolus MLT administered after PTX treatment (PTX+MLT). In addition, PTX+MLTs exhibited greater efficacy in reversing PTX-induced alterations in pRSK2, pNEK2, JMJD3, H3K27me3, and TRPV1 expression and interaction in DRG neurons than PTX+MLT. These results indicated that MLT administered during PTX treatment reduced the incidence and/or severity of neuropathy and had a better inhibitory effect on the pNEK2-dependent epigenetic program compared to MLT administered after PTX treatment. In conclusion, MLT/MT2 is a promising therapy for the treatment of pNEK2-dependent painful neuropathy resulting from PTX treatment. MLT administered during PTX chemotherapy may be more effective in the prevention or reduction of PTX-induced neuropathy and maintaining quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4227-4239
Number of pages13
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 6 2023


  • dorsal root ganglion
  • epigenetic
  • melatonin
  • neuropathic pain
  • paclitaxel
  • pNEK2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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