Thursday, September 22nd
Plenary Lecture | Virtual Program
Plenary Room Level 800
Neuronal Interactions With Microbes in Pain and Host Defense
The sensory nervous system is constantly exposed to microbes at barrier tissues such as the skin and gut. We and others have found that nociceptors can directly sense bacteria and their products to mediate pain. During gram-positive infections, nociceptors can directly detect bacterial pore-forming toxins and signal to immune cells to modulate the outcome of infection. Therefore, the nervous system plays an active role in host defense. We recently found that nociceptors express ANTXR2 (CMG2), the high affinity receptor for anthrax toxins. Anthrax edema toxin induced analgesic effects when administered intrathecally into mice and had analgesic effects in inflammatory and neuropathic models. Anthrax toxins can also be engineered to deliver exogenous molecular cargoes into nociceptors to modulate pain signaling. Therefore, understanding microbial factors that act on sensory neurons could lead to novel approaches to treat pain and improve host defense.