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Author contributions: E.L.D. and T.B.U. designed research; E.L.D., M.C.T., and T.B.U. performed research; E.L.D., H.A.C., and T.B.U. analyzed data; E.L.D., H.A.C., and T.B.U. wrote the paper.
Pain and depression are frequently associated with and often persist after resolution of an initial injury. Identifying the extent to which depression remains causally associated with ongoing physical discomfort during chronic pain, or becomes independent of it, is an important problem for basic neuroscience and psychiatry. Difficulty in distinguishing between effects of ongoing aversive sensory input and its long-term consequences is a significant roadblock, especially in animal models. To address this relationship between localized physical discomfort and its more global consequences, we investigated cellular and behavioral changes during and after reversing a mouse model of neuropathic pain. Tactile allodynia produced by placing a plastic cuff around the sciatic nerve resolved within several days when the cuff was removed. In contrast, the changes in elevated O-maze, forced-swim, Y-maze spontaneous alternation and novel-object recognition test performance that developed after nerve cuff placement remained for at least 3 weeks after the nerve cuffs were removed, or 10–15 d following complete normalization of mechanical sensitivity. Hippocampal neurogenesis, measured by doublecortin and proliferating cell nuclear antigen expression, was also suppressed after nerve cuff placement and remained suppressed 3 weeks after cuff removal. FosB expression was elevated in the central nucleus of the amygdala and spinal cord dorsal horn only in mice with ongoing allodynia. In contrast, FosB remained elevated in the basolateral amygdala of mice with resolved nociception and persisting behavioral effects. These observations suggest that different processes control tactile hypersensitivity and the behavioral changes and impaired neurogenesis that are associated with neuropathic allodynia.