The Scaffold Protein PICK1 as a Target in Chronic Pain

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Well-tolerated and effective drugs for treating chronic pain conditions are urgently needed. Most chronic pain patients are not effectively relieved from their pain and suffer from debilitating drug side effects. This has not only drastic negative consequences for the patients’ quality of life, but also constitute an enormous burden on society. It is therefore of great interest to explore new potent targets for effective pain treatment with fewer side effects and without addiction liability. A critical component of chronic pain conditions is central sensitization, which involves the reorganization and strengthening of synaptic transmission within nociceptive pathways. Such changes are considered as maladaptive and depend on changes in the surface expression and signaling of AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs). The PDZ-domain scaffold protein PICK1 binds the AMPARs and has been suggested to play a key role in these maladaptive changes. In the present paper, we review the regulation of AMPARs by PICK1 and its relation to pain pathology. Moreover, we highlight other pain-relevant PICK1 interactions, and we evaluate various compounds that target PICK1 and have been successfully tested in pain models. Finally, we evaluate the potential on-target side effects of interfering with the action of PICK1 action in CNS and beyond. We conclude that PICK1 constitutes a valid drug target for the treatment of inflammatory and neuropathic pain conditions without the side effects and abuse liability associated with current pain medication.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1255
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

    Research areas

  • calcium permeable AMPAR, drug development, inflammatory pain, maladap-tive plasticity, neuropathic pain, therapeutic peptides

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