Neuropathic pain (NP) is the comorbidity in spinal cord injury(SCI), which is the hardest to cure. Non-coding RNA dysregulations are related to the development of NP. NEAT1(nuclear paraspeckle assembly transcript 1) is a new type of lncRNA. This study explores the role and specific mechanism of NEAT1 in SCI-mediated NP.
Firstly, the NEAT1 expression in SCI rats and the control group was detected with RT-PCR to analyze the relationship between NEAT13 and NP symptoms. Then, SCI rats were intrathecally injected with NEAT13 overexpressing and knocking down lentiviruses. Afterward, ELISA was utilized to assess the expression of IL-6, IL-1β and TNFα in rats. Subsequently, immunohistochemistry was adopted to verify the activation of microglial cells. After that, bioinformatics analysis was employed to further predict the downstream target genes of NEAT1, while RT-PCR and Western blot were conducted to determine the relative expression of miR-128-3p and aquaporin-4(AQP4). Meanwhile, a dual-luciferase reporter assay was performed to further study the targeting relationship between NEAT1 and miR-128-3p, and miR-128-3p and AQP4.
SCI rats showed distinctly higher NEAT1 expression compared with that of the control group. ELISA experiment confirmed that the over-expression of NEAT1 enhanced the expression of IL-6, IL-1β, and TNFα in SCI rats. Other related mechanism studies revealed that NEAT13 targeted and inhibited miR-128-3p as its competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA), and enhanced AQP4 expression, while miR-128-3p targeted AQP4 to regulate its expression.
NEAT1 affects AQP4 signaling pathway to alleviate the spinal cord injury-induced NP via promoting miR-128-3p expression.

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