Accumulating evidence indicates that Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling adapter protein interactions with Toll/Interleukin-1 Receptor (TIR) domains present in sensory neurons may modulate neuropathic pain states. Following ligand interaction with TLRs, TIR serves to both initiate intracellular signaling and facilitate recruitment of signaling adapter proteins to the intracytoplasmic domain. Although TLR TIR is central to a number of TLR signaling cascades, its role in sensory neurons is poorly understood. In this study we investigated the degree to which TLR TIR decoy peptide modified to include a TAT sequence (Trans-Activator of Transcription gene in HIV; TAT-4BB) affected LPS-induced intracellular calcium flux and excitation in sensory neurons, and behavioral changes due to TLR4 active metabolite, morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G) exposure in vivo. TAT-4BB inhibited LPS-induced calcium changes in a majority of sensory neurons and decreased LPS-dependent neuronal excitability in small diameter neurons. Acute systemic administration of the TAT-4BB reversed M3G-induced tactile allodynia in a dose-dependent manner but did not affect motor activity, anxiety or responses to noxious thermal stimulus. These data suggest that targeting TLR TIR domains may provide novel pharmacological targets to reduce or reverse TLR4-dependent pain behavior in the rodent.
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