Single-dose p2 x4r single-chain fragment variable antibody permanently reverses chronic pain in male mice

Karin N. Westlund, Marena A. Montera, Aleyah E. Goins, Sascha R.A. Alles, Nikita Suri, Sabrina L. McIlwrath, Robyn Bartel, Ravi R. Durvasula, Adinarayana Kunamneni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-opioid single-chain variable fragment (scFv) small antibodies were generated as pain-reducing block of P2X4R receptor (P2X4R). A panel of scFvs targeting an extracellular peptide sequence of P2X4R was generated followed by cell-free ribosome display for recombinant antibody selection. After three rounds of bio-panning, a panel of recombinant antibodies was isolated and characterized by ELISA, cross-reactivity analysis, and immunoblotting/immunostaining. Generated scFv antibodies feature binding activity similar to monoclonal antibodies but with stronger affinity and increased tissue penetrability due to their ~30% smaller size. Two anti-P2X4R scFv clones (95, 12) with high specificity and affinity binding were selected for in vivo testing in male and female mice with trigeminal nerve chronic neuropathic pain (FRICT-ION model) persisting for several months in untreated BALBc mice. A single dose of P2X4R scFv (4 mg/kg, i.p.) successfully, completely, and permanently reversed chronic neuropathic pain-like measures in male mice only, providing retention of baseline behaviors indefinitely. Untreated mice retained hypersensitivity, and developed anxiety-and depression-like behaviors within 5 weeks. In vitro P2X4R scFv 95 treatment significantly increased the rheobase of larger-diameter (>25 µm) trigeminal ganglia (TG) neurons from FRICT-ION mice compared to controls. The data support use of engineered scFv antibodies as non-opioid biotherapeutic interventions for chronic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13612
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Nerve injury
  • Neuropathy
  • Pain therapy
  • Small antibody

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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