Vesicular nucleotide transporter is a molecular target of eicosapentaenoic acid for neuropathic and inflammatory pain treatment

Yuri Kato, Kengo Ohsugi, Yuto Fukuno, Ken Iwatsuki, Yuika Harada, Takaaki Miyaji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 (ω-3) polyunsaturated fatty acid, is an essential nutrient that exhibits antiinflammatory, neuroprotective, and cardiovascularprotective activities. Although EPA is used as a nutrient-based pharmaceutical agent or dietary supplement, its molecular target(s) is debatable. Here, we showed that EPA and its metabolites strongly and reversibly inhibit vesicular nucleotide transporter (VNUT), a key molecule for vesicular storage and release of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in purinergic chemical transmission. In vitro analysis showed that EPA inhibits human VNUT-mediated ATP uptake at a half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 67 nM, acting as an allosteric modulator through competition with Cl2. EPA impaired vesicular ATP release from neurons without affecting the vesicular release of other neurotransmitters. In vivo, VNUT-/- mice showed a delay in the onset of neuropathic pain and resistance to both neuropathic and inflammatory pain. EPA potently attenuated neuropathic and inflammatory pain in wild-type mice but not in VNUT-/- mice without affecting the basal nociception. The analgesic effect of EPA was canceled by the intrathecal injection of purinoceptor agonists and was stronger than that of existing drugs used for neuropathic pain treatment, with few side effects. Neuropathic pain impaired insulin sensitivity in previous studies, which was improved by EPA in the wild-type mice but not in the VNUT-/- mice. Our results showed that VNUT is a molecular target of EPA that attenuates neuropathic and inflammatory pain and insulin resistance. EPA may represent a unique nutrient-based treatment and prevention strategy for neurological, immunological, and metabolic diseases by targeting purinergic chemical transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2122158119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - Jul 26 2022


  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • neuropathic pain
  • omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid
  • purinergic chemical transmission
  • vesicular nucleotide transporter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Vesicular nucleotide transporter is a molecular target of eicosapentaenoic acid for neuropathic and inflammatory pain treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this