Systematic analysis of inflammation and pain pathways in a mouse model of gout
Gout is a prevalent and painful inflammatory arthritis, and its global burden continues to rise. Intense pain induced by gout attacks is a major complication of gout. However, systematic studies of gout inflammation and pain are lacking. Using a monosodium urate (MSU) crystal-induced gout model, we performed genome-wide transcriptome analysis of the inflamed ankle joint, dorsal root ganglion (DRG), and spinal cord of gouty mice. Our results revealed important transcriptional changes, including highly elevated inflammation and broad activation of immune pathways in both the joint and the nervous system, in gouty mice. Integrated analysis showed that there was a remarkable overlap between our RNAseq and human genome-wide association study (GWAS) of gout; for example, the risk gene, stanniocalcin-1 (STC1) showed significant upregulation in all three tissues. Interestingly, when compared to the transcriptomes of human osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) joint tissues, we identified significant upregulation of cAMP/cyclic nucleotide-mediated signaling shared between gouty mice and human OA with high knee pain, which may provide excellent drug targets to relieve gout pain. Furthermore, we investigated the common and distinct transcriptomic features of gouty, inflammatory pain, and neuropathic pain mouse models in their DRG and spinal cord tissues. Moreover, we discovered distinct sets of genes with significant differential alternative splicing or differential transcript usage in each tissue, which were largely not detected by conventional differential gene expression analysis approaches. Based on these results, our study provided a more accurate and comprehensive depiction of transcriptomic alterations related to gout inflammation and pain.