A New Model of Sensorial Neuron-Like Cells for HTS of Novel Analgesics for Neuropathic Pain

Martínez AL, Brea J, Monroy X, Merlos M, Burgueño J, Loza MI
SLAS Discovery - vol. 24 158-168 (2019)

SLAS Discovery

In this study we developed a new translational phenotypic in vitro model for high-throughput screening (HTS) of novel analgesics for treating neuropathic pain, in order to address the poor translation of traditional recombinant models. The immortalized dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neuron-like F11 cell line was selected based on its phenotype after differentiation. The acquisition of neuronal characteristics was evaluated by measuring the expression of TrkA as a DRG neuron marker (p < 0.01) as well as by measuring the global neurite length (p < 0.001). The response of F11 cells to ATP and KCl was obtained by measuring intracellular calcium concentration, dynamic mass redistribution, and membrane potential. A KCl-induced increase of intracellular calcium levels was chosen as the readout because of the better signal quality, higher reproducibility, and greater compatibility with HTS assay requirements compared with other methods. The response to KCl differed significantly between differentiated and undifferentiated cells (p < 0.05), with an EC 50 value of 5 mM in differentiated cells. The model was validated by screening the Prestwick Chemical Library. Five hits already proposed for neuropathic-related pain were identified, with IC 50 values between 1 and 7 µM. This cell model provides a new tool for screening novel analgesics for the relief of neuropathic pain.