Chemogenetic and Optogenetic Manipulations of Microglia in Chronic Pain

Sebastian Parusel, Min Hee Yi, Christine L. Hunt, Long Jun Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Chronic pain relief remains an unmet medical need. Current research points to a substantial contribution of glia-neuron interaction in its pathogenesis. Particularly, microglia play a crucial role in the development of chronic pain. To better understand the microglial contribution to chronic pain, specific regional and temporal manipulations of microglia are necessary. Recently, two new approaches have emerged that meet these demands. Chemogenetic tools allow the expression of designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) specifically in microglia. Similarly, optogenetic tools allow for microglial manipulation via the activation of artificially expressed, light-sensitive proteins. Chemo- and optogenetic manipulations of microglia in vivo are powerful in interrogating microglial function in chronic pain. This review summarizes these emerging tools in studying the role of microglia in chronic pain and highlights their potential applications in microglia-related neurological disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-378
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroscience Bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Chemogenetics
  • Chronic pain
  • Microglia
  • Optogenetics
  • ReaChR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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