A preconditioning stimulus can trigger a neuroprotective phenotype in the nervous system - a preconditioning nerve lesion causes a significant increase in axonal regeneration, and cerebral preconditioning protects against subsequent ischemia. We hypothesized that a preconditioning nerve lesion induces gene/protein modifications, neuronal changes, and immune activation that may affect pain sensation following subsequent nerve injury. We examined whether a preconditioning lesion affects neuropathic pain and neuroinflammation after peripheral nerve injury.
We found that a preconditioning crush injury to a terminal branch of the sciatic nerve seven days before partial ligation of the sciatic nerve (PSNL; a model of neuropathic pain) induced a significant attenuation of pain hypersensitivity, particularly mechanical allodynia. A preconditioning lesion of the tibial nerve induced a long-term significant increase in paw-withdrawal threshold to mechanical stimuli and paw-withdrawal latency to thermal stimuli, after PSNL. A preconditioning lesion of the common peroneal induced a smaller but significant short-term increase in paw-withdrawal threshold to mechanical stimuli, after PSNL. There was no difference between preconditioned and unconditioned animals in neuronal damage and macrophage and T-cell infiltration into the dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) or in astrocyte and microglia activation in the spinal dorsal and ventral horns.
These results suggest that prior exposure to a mild nerve lesion protects against adverse effects of subsequent neuropathic injury, and that this conditioning-induced inhibition of pain hypersensitivity is not dependent on neuroinflammation in DRGs and spinal cord. Identifying the underlying mechanisms may have important implications for the understanding of neuropathic pain due to nerve injury.
Unilateral constrictive sciatic nerve injury (uCCI) is a common neuropathic pain model. However, the bilateral constrictive injury (bCCI) model is less well studied, and shows unique characteristics. In the present study, we sought to correlate effects of bCCI on nocifensive responses to cold and mechanical stimuli with selected dorsal horn anatomic markers. bCCI or sham ligation of both rat sciatic nerves were followed up to 90 days of behavioural testing. Additional rats sacrificed at 15, 30 and 90 days were used for anatomic analyses. Behavioural tests included hindpaw withdrawal responses to topical acetone, cold plate testing, an operant thermal preference task and hindpaw withdrawal thresholds to mechanical probing.
All nocifensive responses to cold increased and remained enhanced for >45 days. Mechanical withdrawal thresholds decreased for 25 days only. Densitometric analyses of immunoperoxidase staining in the superficial dorsal horn at L4-5 revealed decreased cholecystokinin (CCK) staining at all times after bCCI, decreased mu opiate receptor (MOR) staining, maximal at 15 days, increased neuropeptide Y (NPY) staining only at days 15 and 30, and increased neurokinin-1 receptor (NK-1R) staining at all time points, maximal at 15 days. Correlation analyses at 45 days post-bCCI, were significant for individual rat nocifensive responses in each cold test and CCK and NK-1R, but not for MOR or NPY.
These results confirm the usefulness of cold testing in bCCI rats, a new approach using CCI to model neuropathic pain, and suggest a potential value of studying the roles of dorsal horn CCK and substance P in chronic neuropathic pain. Compared to human subjects with neuropathic pain, responses to cold stimuli in rats with bCCI may be a useful model of neuropathic pain.
The α2δ-1 subunit of voltage-gated calcium channels is upregulated after sensory nerve injury and is also the therapeutic target of gabapentinoid drugs. It is therefore likely to play a key role in the development of neuropathic pain. In this study, we have examined mice in which α2δ-1 gene expression is disrupted, to determine whether α2δ-1 is involved in various modalities of nociception, and for the development of behavioral hypersensitivity after partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSNL). We find that naive α2δ-1−/− mice show a marked behavioral deficit in mechanical and cold sensitivity, but no change in thermal nociception threshold. The lower mechanical sensitivity is mirrored by a reduced in vivo electrophysiological response of dorsal horn wide dynamic range neurons. The CaV2.2 level is reduced in brain and spinal cord synaptosomes from α2δ-1−/− mice, and α2δ-1−/− DRG neurons exhibit lower calcium channel current density. Furthermore, a significantly smaller number of DRG neurons respond to the TRPM8 agonist menthol. After PSNL, α2δ-1−/− mice show delayed mechanical hypersensitivity, which only develops at 11 d after surgery, whereas in wild-type littermates it is maximal at the earliest time point measured (3 d). There is no compensatory upregulation of α2δ-2 or α2δ-3 after PSNL in α2δ-1−/− mice, and other transcripts, including neuropeptide Y and activating transcription factor-3, are upregulated normally. Furthermore, the ability of pregabalin to alleviate mechanical hypersensitivity is lost in PSNL α2δ-1−/− mice. Thus, α2δ-1 is essential for rapid development of mechanical hypersensitivity in a nerve injury model of neuropathic pain.
Cold hypersensitivity is a common sensory abnormality accompanying peripheral neuropathies and is difficult to treat. Progress has been made in understanding peripheral mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain but little is known concerning peripheral mechanisms of cold hypersensitivity. The aim of this study was to analyze the contribution of uninjured primary afferents to the cold hypersensitivity that develops in neuropathic rats. Rats with a lumbar 5 (L5) and L6 spinal nerve ligation (SNL, Chung model) but not sham, developed mechanical allodynia, evidenced by decreased paw withdrawal thresholds and increased magnitude of response to von Frey stimulation. Cold hypersensitivity also developed in SNL but not sham rats, evidenced by enhanced nociceptive behaviors induced by placement on a cold plate (6 °C) or application of icilin (a transient receptor potential M8 (TRPM8)/transient receptor potential A1 (TRPA1) receptor agonist) to nerve-injured hind paws. Single fiber recordings demonstrated that the mean conduction velocities of intact L4 cutaneous Aδ- and C-fibers were not different between naive and SNL rats; however, mechanical thresholds of the Aδ- but not the C-fibers were significantly decreased in SNL compared with naive. There was a higher prevalence of C-mechanoheat-cold (CMHC) fibers in SNL compared with naive, but the overall percentage of cold-sensitive C-fibers was not significantly increased compared with naive. This was in contrast to the numerous changes in Aδ-fibers: the percentage of L4 cold sensitive Aδ-, but not C-fibers, was significantly increased, the percentage of L4 icilin-sensitive Aδ-, but not C-fibers, was significantly increased, the icilin-induced activity of L4 Aδ-, but not C-fibers, was significantly increased. Icilin-induced activity was blocked by the TRPA1 antagonist Ruthenium Red. The results indicate plasticity in both Aδ- and C-uninjured fibers, but Aδ fibers appear to provide a major contribution to cold hypersensitivity in neuropathic rats.
peripheral neuropathy; sensitization; TRPA1; TRPM8; neuropathic pain; cold allodynia
Brain microinjection studies in the rat using local anesthetics suggest that the rostral ventral medulla (RVM) contributes to the facilitation of neuropathic pain. However, these studies were restricted to a single model of neuropathic pain (the spinal nerve ligation model) and to just two stimulus modalities (non-noxious tactile stimulus and heat). Also, few neurotransmitter systems have been shown to modulate descending facilitation. After either partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSNL) or spared nerve injury (SNI), we found that unilateral or bilateral microinjection of lidocaine into the RVM reduced not only mechanical allodynia (decreased threshold to von Frey hairs and/or an automated device) and mechanical hyperalgesia (increased paw lifting in response to a noxious pin), but also cold hypersensitivity (increased lifting in response to the hindpaw application of a drop of acetone). Application of a drop of water did not elicit paw withdrawal, indicating that the acetone test is indeed a measure of cold hypersensitivity. We found significant neuropeptide Y Y1-like immunoreactivity within, and lateral to, the midline RVM. Intra-RVM injection of neuropeptide Y (NPY) dose-dependently inhibited the mechanical and cold hypersensitivity associated with PSNL or SNI, an effect that could be blocked by the Y1 receptor antagonist BIBO 3304. We conclude that medullary facilitation spans multiple behavioral signs of allodynia and hyperalgesia in multiple models of neuropathic pain. Furthermore, NPY inhibits behavioural signs of neuropathic pain, possibly by acting at Y1 receptors in the RVM.
descending facilitation; allodynia; hyperalgesia; spared nerve injury; lidocaine; rat
Neuroinflammation and nitroxidative stress are implicated in the pathophysiology of neuropathic pain. In view of both processes, microglial and astroglial activation in the spinal dorsal horn play a predominant role. The present study investigated the severity of neuropathic pain and the degree of glial activation in an inflammatory- and nitroxidative-prone animal model.
Transgenic rats expressing mutated superoxide dismutase 1 (hSOD1G93A) are classically used as a model for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Because of the associated inflammatory- and nitroxidative-prone properties, this model was used to study thermal and mechanical hypersensitivity following partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSNL). Next to pain hypersensitivity assessment, microglial and astroglial activation states were moreover characterized, as well as inflammatory marker gene expression and the glutamate clearance system.
PSNL induced thermal and mechanical hypersensitivity in both wild-type (WT) and transgenic rats. However, the degree of thermal hypersensitivity was found to be exacerbated in transgenic rats while mechanical hypersensitivity was only slightly and not significantly increased. Microglial Iba1 expression was found to be increased in the ipsilateral dorsal horn of the lumbar spinal cord after PSNL but such Iba1 up-regulation was enhanced in transgenic rats as compared WT rats, both at 3 days and at 21 days after injury. Moreover, mRNA levels of Nox2, a key enzyme in microglial activation, but also of pro-inflammatory markers (IL-1β and TLR4) were not modified in WT ligated rats at 21 days after PSNL as compared to WT sham group while transgenic ligated rats showed up-regulated gene expression of these 3 targets. On the other hand, the PSNL-induced increase in GFAP immunoreactivity spreading that was evidenced in WT rats was unexpectedly found to be attenuated in transgenic ligated rats. Finally, GLT-1 gene expression and uptake activity were shown to be similar between WT sham and WT ligated rats at 21 days after injury, while both parameters were significantly increased in the ipsilateral dorsal region of the lumbar spinal cord of hSOD1G93A rats.
Taken together, our findings show that exacerbated microglial activation and subsequent inflammatory and nitroxidative processes are associated with the severity of neuropathic pain symptoms.
Neuropathic pain is commonly associated with affective disorders such as anxiety and depression. We have previously characterised a rodent model of HIV, anti-retroviral-associated neuropathy in which rats develop hypersensitivity to a punctate mechanical stimulus and display anxiety-like behaviour in the open field paradigm. To assess the potential of this behavioural paradigm for the assessment of pain related co-morbidities in rodent models of pain, here we test the sensitivity of this anxiety-like behaviour to the analgesic agents gabapentin and morphine in comparison to the known anxiolytic drug diazepam. We found that gabapentin (30 mg/kg, i.p.) and morphine (2.5 mg/kg, i.p.), which reduce mechanical hypersensitivity in these rats, significantly reduces measures of thigmotaxis in the open field. The effect of gabapentin and morphine did not differ significantly from diazepam (1 mg/kg, i.p.). This study highlights the potential use of this rodent model and behavioural paradigm in the validation of the affective component of novel analgesic pharmacological targets and elucidation of underlying pathophysiological mechanisms.
Neuropathic pain; Pain comorbidity; Open field activity; HIV neuropathy; Gabapentin
Current rodent models of neuropathic pain produce pain hypersensitivity in almost all lesioned animals and not all identified experimental effects are pain specific. 18G needlestick-nerve-injury (NNI) to one tibial nerve of outbred Sprague-Dawley rats models the phenotype of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a post-traumatic neuropathic pain syndrome, leaving roughly half of NNI rats with hyperalgesia. We compared endoneurial data from these divergent endophenotypes searching for pathological changes specifically associated with pain-behaviors. Tibial, sural, and common sciatic nerves from 12 NNI rats plus 10 nerves from sham-operated controls were removed 14 days post-surgery for morphometric analysis. PGP9.5+ unmyelinated-fibers were quantitated in plantar hindpaw skin. Distal tibial nerves of NNI rats had endoneurial edema, 30% fewer axons, twice as many mast cells, and thicker blood-vessel walls than uninjured tibial nerves. However the only significant difference between nerves from hyperalgesic versus non-hyperalgesic NNI rats was greater endoneurial edema in hyperalgesic rats (p < 0.01). We also discovered significant axonal losses in uninjured ipsilateral sural nerves of NNI rats, demonstrating spread of neuropathy to nearby nerves formerly thought spared. Tibial and sural nerves contralateral to NNI had significant changes in endoneurial bloodvessels. Similar pathological changes have been identified in CRPS-I patients. The current findings suggest that severity of endoneurial vasculopathy and inflammation may correlate better with neuropathic pain behaviors than degree of axonal loss. Spread of pathological changes to nearby ipsilateral and contralesional nerves might potentially contribute to extraterritorial pain in CRPS.
Neuralgia; reflex sympathetic dystrophy; hyperalgesia; allodynia; dystonia; morphometry; mast cells
Neuropathic pain is a severe health problem for which there is a lack of effective therapy. A frequent underlying condition of neuropathic pain is a sustained overexcitability of pain-sensing (nociceptive) sensory fibres. Therefore, the identification of mechanisms for such abnormal neuronal excitability is of utmost importance for understanding neuropathic pain. Despite much effort, an inclusive model explaining peripheral overexcitability is missing. We investigated transcriptional regulation of the Kcnq2 gene, which encodes the Kv7.2 subunit of membrane potential-stabilizing M channel, in peripheral sensory neurons in a model of neuropathic pain—partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSNL). We show that Kcnq2 is the major Kcnq gene transcript in dorsal root ganglion (DRG); immunostaining and patch-clamp recordings from acute ganglionic slices verified functional expression of Kv7.2 in small-diameter nociceptive DRG neurons. Neuropathic injury induced substantial downregulation of Kv7.2 expression. Levels of repressor element 1–silencing transcription factor (REST), which is known to suppress Kcnq2 expression, were upregulated in response to neuropathic injury identifying the likely mechanism of Kcnq2 regulation. Behavioural experiments demonstrated that neuropathic hyperalgesia following PSNL developed faster than the downregulation of Kcnq2 expression could be detected, suggesting that this transcriptional mechanism may contribute to the maintenance rather than the initiation of neuropathic pain. Importantly, the decrease in the peripheral M channel abundance could be functionally compensated by peripherally applied M channel opener flupirtine, which alleviated neuropathic hyperalgesia. Our work suggests a novel mechanism for neuropathic overexcitability and brings focus on M channels and REST as peripheral targets for the treatment of neuropathic pain.
Neuropathic injury induces transcriptional downregulation of the Kcnq2 potassium channel gene by the transcriptional suppressor repressor element 1–silencing transcription factor; this mechanism contributes to peripheral sensitization of the afferent fibres.
KCNQ; M current; REST; Sensory neuron; DRG; Neuropathic pain
Peripheral neuropathic pain is a severe chronic pain condition which may result from trauma to sensory nerves in the peripheral nervous system. The spared nerve injury (SNI) model induces symptoms of neuropathic pain such as mechanical allodynia i.e. pain due to tactile stimuli that do not normally provoke a painful response .
The SNI mouse model involves ligation of two of the three branches of the sciatic nerve (the tibial nerve and the common peroneal nerve), while the sural nerve is left intact . The lesion results in marked hypersensitivity in the lateral area of the paw, which is innervated by the spared sural nerve. The non-operated side of the mouse can be used as a control. The advantages of the SNI model are the robustness of the response and that it doesn’t require expert microsurgical skills.
The threshold for mechanical pain response is determined by testing with von Frey filaments of increasing bending force, which are repetitively pressed against the lateral area of the paw , . A positive pain reaction is defined as sudden paw withdrawal, flinching and/or paw licking induced by the filament. A positive response in three out of five repetitive stimuli is defined as the pain threshold.
As demonstrated in the video protocol, C57BL/6 mice experience profound allodynia as early as the day following surgery and maintain this for several weeks.
A painful neuropathy is frequently observed in people living with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). The HIV coat protein, glycoprotein 120 (gp120), implicated in the pathogenesis of neurological disorders associated with HIV, is capable of initiating neurotoxic cascades via an interaction with the CXCR4 and/or CCR5 chemokine receptors, which may underlie the pathogenesis of HIV-associated peripheral neuropathic pain. In order to elucidate the mechanisms underlying HIV-induced painful peripheral neuropathy, we have characterised pathological events in the peripheral and central nervous system following application of HIV-1 gp120 to the rat sciatic nerve. Perineural HIV-1 gp120 treatment induced a persistent mechanical hypersensitivity (44% decrease from baseline), but no alterations in sensitivity to thermal or cold stimuli, and thigmotactic (anxiety-like) behaviour in the open field. The mechanical hypersensitivity was sensitive to systemic treatment with gabapentin, morphine and the cannabinoid WIN 55,212-2, but not with amitriptyline. Immunohistochemical studies reveal: decreased intraepidermal nerve fibre density, macrophage infiltration into the peripheral nerve at the site of perineural HIV-1 gp120; changes in sensory neuron phenotype including expression of activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) in 27% of cells, caspase-3 in 25% of cells, neuropeptide Y (NPY) in 12% of cells and galanin in 13% of cells and a spinal gliosis. These novel findings suggest that this model is not only useful for the elucidation of mechanisms underlying HIV-1-related peripheral neuropathy but may prove useful for preclinical assessment of drugs for the treatment of HIV-1 related peripheral neuropathic pain.
HIV-1; Neuropathy; Microglia; Macrophages; Gabapentin; Cannabinoids
Activation of glutamate receptors and glial cells in the spinal dorsal horn are two fundamental processes involved in the pathogenesis of various pain conditions, including neuropathic pain induced by injury to the peripheral or central nervous systems. Numerous studies have demonstrated that minocycline treatment attenuates allodynic and hyperalgesic behaviors induced by tissue inflammation or nerve injury. However, the synaptic mechanisms by which minocycline prevents hyperalgesia are not fully understood. We recently reported that deficient glutamate uptake by glial glutamate transporters (GTs) is key for the enhanced activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the spinal sensory synapses of rats receiving partial sciatic nerve ligation (pSNL). In this study, we investigated how minocycline affects activation of NMDA receptors in the spinal sensory synapses in rats with pSNL by whole cell recordings of NMDA currents in spinal laminea I and II neurons from spinal slices. The effects of minocycline treatments on the dorsal horn expression of glial GTs and astrocyte marker glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. We demonstrated that normalized activation of NMDA receptors in synapses activated by both weak and strong peripheral input in the spinal dorsal horn is temporally associated with attenuated mechanical allodynia in rats with pSNL receiving intraperitoneal injection of minocycline. Minocycline ameliorated both the downregulation of glial GT expression and the activation of astrocytes induced by pSNL in the spinal dorsal horn. We further revealed that preventing deficient glial glutamate uptake at the synapse is crucial for preserving the normalized activation of NMDA receptors in the spinal sensory synapses in pSNL rats treated with minocycline. Our studies suggest that glial GTs may be a potential target for the development of analgesics.
glutamate transporters; glutamate receptors; spinal sensory processing; nociception; glia; pain
Release of endogenous dynorphin opioids within the spinal cord after partial sciatic nerve ligation (pSNL) is known to contribute to the neuropathic pain processes. Using a phosphoselective antibody [κ opioid receptor (KOR-P)] able to detect the serine 369 phosphorylated form of the KOR, we determined possible sites of dynorphin action within the spinal cord after pSNL. KOR-P immunoreactivity (IR) was markedly increased in the L4 –L5 spinal dorsal horn of wild-type C57BL/6 mice (7–21 d) after lesion, but not in mice pretreated with the KOR antagonist nor-binaltorphimine (norBNI). In addition, knock-out mice lacking prodynorphin, KOR, or G-protein receptor kinase 3 (GRK3) did not show significant increases in KOR-P IR after pSNL. KOR-P IR was colocalized in both GABAergic neurons and GFAP-positive astrocytes in both ipsilateral and contralateral spinal dorsal horn. Consistent with sustained opioid release, KOR knock-out mice developed significantly increased tactile allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia in both the early (first week) and late (third week) interval after lesion. Similarly, mice pretreated with norBNI showed enhanced hyperalgesia and allodynia during the 3 weeks after pSNL. Because sustained activation of opioid receptors might induce tolerance, we measured the antinociceptive effect of the κ agonist U50,488 using radiant heat applied to the ipsilateral hindpaw, and we found that agonist potency was significantly decreased 7 d after pSNL. In contrast, neither prodynorphin nor GRK3 knock-out mice showed U50,488 tolerance after pSNL. These findings suggest that pSNL induced a sustained release of endogenous prodynorphin-derived opioid peptides that activated an anti-nociceptive KOR system in mouse spinal cord. Thus, endogenous dynorphin had both pronociceptive and antinociceptive actions after nerve injury and induced GRK3-mediated opioid tolerance.
κ opioid receptor; opiate; dynorphin; receptor phosphorylation; desensitization; allodynia; hyperalgesia
Neuropathic pain is characterized by hypersensitivity to innocuous stimuli (tactile allodynia) that is nearly always resistant to NSAIDs or even opioids. Gabapentin, a GABA analogue, was originally developed to treat epilepsy. Accumulating clinical evidence supports the effectiveness of this drug for diverse neuropathic pain. In this study, we showed that the anti-allodynic effect of gabapentin was changed by the circadian oscillation in the expression of its target molecule, the calcium channel α2δ-1 subunit.
Mice were underwent partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSL) to create a model of neuropathic pain. The paw withdrawal threshold (PWT) in PSL mice significantly decreased and fluctuated with a period length about 24 h. The PWT in PSL mice was dose-dependently increased by intraperitoneal injection of gabapentin, but the anti-allodynic effects varied according to its dosing time. The protein levels of α2δ-1 subunit were up-regulated in the DRG of PSL mice, but the protein levels oscillated in a circadian time-dependent manner. The time-dependent oscillation of α2δ-1 subunit protein correlated with fluctuations in the maximal binding capacity of gabapentin. The anti-allodynic effect of gabapentin was attenuated at the times of the day when α2δ-1 subunit protein was abundant.
These findings suggest that the dosing time-dependent difference in the anti-allodynic effects of gabapentin is attributable to the circadian oscillation of α2δ-1 subunit expression in the DRG and indicate that the optimizing its dosing schedule helps to achieve rational pharmacotherapy for neuropathic pain.
An inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate binding protein, comprising 2 isoforms termed PRIP-1 and PRIP-2, was identified as a novel modulator for GABAA receptor trafficking. It has been reported that naive PRIP-1 knockout mice have hyperalgesic responses.
To determine the involvement of PRIP in pain sensation, a hind paw withdrawal test was performed before and after partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSNL) in PRIP-1 and PRIP-2 double knockout (DKO) mice. We found that naive DKO mice exhibited normal pain sensitivity. However, DKO mice that underwent PSNL surgery showed increased ipsilateral paw withdrawal threshold. To further investigate the inverse phenotype in PRIP-1 KO and DKO mice, we produced mice with specific siRNA-mediated knockdown of PRIPs in the spinal cord. Consistent with the phenotypes of KO mice, PRIP-1 knockdown mice showed allodynia, while PRIP double knockdown (DKD) mice with PSNL showed decreased pain-related behavior. This indicates that reduced expression of both PRIPs in the spinal cord induces resistance towards a painful sensation. GABAA receptor subunit expression pattern was similar between PRIP-1 KO and DKO spinal cord, while expression of K+-Cl--cotransporter-2 (KCC2), which controls the balance of neuronal excitation and inhibition, was significantly upregulated in DKO mice. Furthermore, in the DKD PSNL model, an inhibitor-induced KCC2 inhibition exhibited an altered phenotype from painless to painful sensations.
Suppressed expression of PRIPs induces an elevated expression of KCC2 in the spinal cord, resulting in inhibition of nociception and amelioration of neuropathic pain in DKO mice.
KCC2; GABAA Receptor; Neuropathic pain; Partial sciatic nerve ligation; PRIP
It has been proposed that patients with low back-related leg pain can be classified according to pain mechanisms into four distinct subgroups: Central Sensitization (CS), Denervation (D), Peripheral Nerve Sensitization (PNS), and Musculoskeletal (M). The purpose of this study was to determine whether there were any differences in terms of disability and psychosocial factors between these four subgroups. Forty-five subjects with low back-related leg pain completed the Oswestry Disability Index, the hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and the Fear Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire. Subsequently, an examiner blinded to the questionnaire results classified the subjects into one of the four subgroups, according to the findings of the self-administered Leeds Assessment of Neuropathic Signs and Symptoms questionnaire and a physical examination. It was found that the PNS subgroup had significantly greater disability compared to all other subgroups and significantly greater fear avoidance beliefs about physical activity compared to the CS and D subgroups. This highlights the importance of sub-classification but also the need to take into account disability and psychosocial factors in the management of low back-related leg pain.
Classification; Disability; Low Back-Related Leg Pain; Psychosocial Factors
Understanding the underlying mechanisms of neuropathic pain caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system remains challenging and could lead to significantly improved therapies. Disturbance of homeostasis not only occurs at the site of injury but also extends to the spinal cord and brain involving various types of cells. Emerging data implicate neuroimmune interaction in the initiation and maintenance of chronic pain hypersensitivity.
In this study, we sought to investigate the effects of TGF-β1, a potent anti-inflammatory cytokine, in alleviating nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain in rats. By using a well established neuropathic pain animal model (partial ligation of the sciatic nerve), we demonstrated that intrathecal infusion of recombinant TGF-β1 significantly attenuated nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain. TGF-β1 treatment not only prevents development of neuropathic pain following nerve injury, but also reverses previously established neuropathic pain conditions. The biological outcomes of TGF-β1 in this context are attributed to its pleiotropic effects. It inhibits peripheral nerve injury-induced spinal microgliosis, spinal microglial and astrocytic activation, and exhibits a powerful neuroprotective effect by preventing the induction of ATF3+ neurons following nerve ligation, consequently reducing the expression of chemokine MCP-1 in damaged neurons. TGF-β1 treatment also suppresses nerve injury-induced inflammatory response in the spinal cord, as revealed by a reduction in cytokine expression.
Our findings revealed that TGF-β1 is effective in the treatment of neuropathic by targeting both neurons and glial cells. We suggest that therapeutic agents such as TGF-β1 having multipotent effects on different types of cells could work in synergy to regain homeostasis in local spinal cord microenvironments, therefore contributing to attenuate neuropathic pain.
Pain is elicited by cold, and a major feature of many neuropathic pain states is that normally innocuous cool stimuli begin to produce pain (cold allodynia). To expand our understanding of cold induced pain states we have studied cold pain behaviors over a range of temperatures in several animal models of chronic pain.
We demonstrate that a Peltier-cooled cold plate with ± 1°C sensitivity enables quantitative measurement of a detection withdrawal response to cold stimuli in unrestrained rats. In naïve rats the threshold for eliciting cold pain behavior is 5°C. The withdrawal threshold for cold allodynia is 15°C in both the spared nerve injury and spinal nerve ligation models of neuropathic pain. Cold hyperalgesia is present in the spared nerve injury model animals, manifesting as a reduced latency of withdrawal response threshold at temperatures that elicit cold pain in naïve rats. We also show that following the peripheral inflammation produced by intraplantar injection of complete Freund's adjuvant, a hypersensitivity to cold occurs.
The peltier-cooled provides an effective means of assaying cold sensitivity in unrestrained rats. Behavioral testing of cold allodynia, hyperalgesia and pain will greatly facilitate the study of the neurobiological mechanisms involved in cold/cool sensations and enable measurement of the efficacy of pharmacological treatments to reduce these symptoms.
Pathomechanisms of injured-nerve pain have not been fully elucidated. Radicular pain and chronic constriction injury models have been established; however, producing these models is complicated. A sciatic nerve-pinch injury is easy to produce but the reliability of this model for evaluating pain behavior has not been examined. The current study evaluated pain-related behavior and change in pain markers in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) of rats in a simple, sciatic nerve-pinch injury model. In the model, the sciatic nerve was pinched for 2 s using forceps (n = 20), but not injured in sham-operated animals (n = 20). Mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia were measured every second day for 2 weeks using von Frey filaments and a Hargreaves device. Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), activating transcription factor-3 (ATF-3), phosphorylated p38 mitogen activated protein (Map) kinase (p-p38), and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB; p65) expression in L5 DRGs were examined at 4 and 7 days after surgery using immunohistochemistry. The proportion of neurons immunoreactive for these markers was compared between the two groups. Mechanical (during 8 days) and thermal hyperalgesia (during 6 days) were found in the pinch group rats, but not in the sham-operated animals (p < 0.05); however, hyperalgesia was not significant from days 10 to 14. CGRP, ATF-3, p-p38, and NF-κB expression in L5 DRGs was upregulated in the nerve-injured rats compared with the sham-operated rats (p < 0.01). Our results indicate that a simple sciatic nerve pinch produced pain-related behavior. Upregulation of the pain-marker expression in the nerve-injury model suggested it could be used as a model of pain. However, it was not considered as suitable for long-term studies.
Rat; Pain; Nerve; Pinch
Chronic pain patients exhibit increased anxiety, depression, and deficits in learning and memory. Yet how persistent pain affects the key brain area regulating these behaviors, the hippocampus, has remained minimally explored. In this study we investigated the impact of spared nerve injury (SNI) neuropathic pain in mice on hippocampal-dependent behavior and underlying cellular and molecular changes. In parallel, we measured the hippocampal volume of three groups of chronic pain patients. We found that SNI animals were unable to extinguish to contextual fear and showed increased anxiety-like behavior. Additionally, SNI mice in comparison to sham animals exhibited hippocampal 1) reduced extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) expression and phosphorylation, 2) decreased neurogenesis and 3) altered short-term synaptic plasticity. In order to relate the observed hippocampal abnormalities with human chronic pain, we measured the volume of human hippocampus in chronic back pain (CBP), complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), and osteoarthritis patients (OA). Compared to controls, CBP and CRPS, but not OA, had significantly less bilateral hippocampal volume. These results indicate that hippocampus-mediated behavior, synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis are abnormal in neuropathic rodents. The changes may be related to the reduction in hippocampal volume we see in chronic pain patients, and these abnormalities may underlie learning and emotional deficits commonly observed in such patients.
Loperamide reverses signs of mechanical hypersensitivity in an animal model of neuropathic pain suggesting that peripheral opioid receptors may be suitable targets for the treatment of neuropathic pain. Since little is known about loperamide effects on the responsiveness of primary afferent nerve fibers, in vivo electrophysiological recordings from unmyelinated afferents innervating the glabrous skin of the hind paw were performed in rats with an L5 spinal nerve lesion or sham surgery. Mechanical threshold and responsiveness to suprathreshold stimulation were tested before and after loperamide (1.25, 2.5 and 5 µg in 10 µl) or vehicle injection into the cutaneous receptive field. Loperamide dose-dependently decreased mechanosensitivity in unmyelinated afferents of nerve-injured and sham animals, and this effect was not blocked by naloxone pretreatment. We then investigated loperamide effects on nerve conduction by recording compound action potentials in vitro during incubation of the sciatic nerve with increasing loperamide concentrations. Loperamide dose-dependently decreased compound action potentials of myelinated and unmyelinated fibers (ED50 = 8 and 4 µg/10 µl, respectively). This blockade was not prevented by pre-incubation with naloxone. These results suggest that loperamide reversal of behavioral signs of neuropathic pain may be mediated, at least in part, by mechanisms independent of opioid receptors, most probably by local anesthetic actions.
Cold allodynia is a common feature of neuropathic pain however the underlying mechanisms of this enhanced sensitivity to cold are not known. Recently the transient receptor potential (TRP) channels TRPM8 and TRPA1 have been identified and proposed to be molecular sensors for cold. Here we have investigated the expression of TRPM8 and TRPA1 mRNA in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and examined the cold sensitivity of peripheral sensory neurons in the chronic construction injury (CCI) model of neuropathic pain in mice.
In behavioral experiments, chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve induced a hypersensitivity to both cold and the TRPM8 agonist menthol that developed 2 days post injury and remained stable for at least 2 weeks. Using quantitative RT-PCR and in situ hybridization we examined the expression of TRPM8 and TRPA1 in DRG. Both channels displayed significantly reduced expression levels after injury with no change in their distribution pattern in identified neuronal subpopulations. Furthermore, in calcium imaging experiments, we detected no alterations in the number of cold or menthol responsive neurons in the DRG, or in the functional properties of cold transduction following injury. Intriguingly however, responses to the TRPA1 agonist mustard oil were strongly reduced.
Our results indicate that injured sensory neurons do not develop abnormal cold sensitivity after chronic constriction injury and that alterations in the expression of TRPM8 and TRPA1 are unlikely to contribute directly to the pathogenesis of cold allodynia in this neuropathic pain model.
Peripheral nerve injuries often trigger a hypersensitivity to tactile stimulation. Behavioural studies demonstrated efficient and side effect-free analgesia mediated by opioid receptors on peripheral sensory neurons. However, mechanistic approaches addressing such opioid properties in painful neuropathies are lacking. Here we investigated whether opioids can directly inhibit primary afferent neuron transmission of mechanical stimuli in neuropathy. We analysed the mechanical thresholds, the firing rates and response latencies of sensory fibres to mechanical stimulation of their cutaneous receptive fields.
Two weeks following a chronic constriction injury of the saphenous nerve, mice developed a profound mechanical hypersensitivity in the paw innervated by the damaged nerve. Using an in vitro skin-nerve preparation we found no changes in the mechanical thresholds and latencies of sensory fibres from injured nerves. The firing rates to mechanical stimulation were unchanged or reduced following injury. Importantly, μ-opioid receptor agonist [D-Ala2,N-Me-Phe4,Gly5]-ol-enkephalin (DAMGO) significantly elevated the mechanical thresholds of nociceptive Aδ and C fibres. Furthermore, DAMGO substantially diminished the mechanically evoked discharges of C nociceptors in injured nerves. These effects were blocked by DAMGO washout and pre-treatment with the selective μ-opioid receptor antagonist Cys2-Tyr3-Orn5-Pen7-amide. DAMGO did not alter the responses of sensory fibres in uninjured nerves.
Our findings suggest that behaviourally manifested neuropathy-induced mechanosensitivity does not require a sensitised state of cutaneous nociceptors in damaged nerves. Yet, nerve injury renders nociceptors sensitive to opioids. Prevention of action potential generation or propagation in nociceptors might represent a cellular mechanism underlying peripheral opioid-mediated alleviation of mechanical hypersensitivity in neuropathy.
Neuropathic pain; Nociceptors; Mechanical sensitivity; Opioids
Peripheral nerve injury often results in abnormal neuropathic pain such as allodynia or hyperalgesia. Acupuncture, a traditional Oriental medicine, has been used to relieve pain and related symptoms. However, the efficiency of acupuncture in relieving neuropathic pain is not clear. The aim of this study was to investigate the anti-allodynic effects of acupuncture through behavioral and electrophysiological examinations. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to neuropathic surgery consisting of a tight ligation and transection of the left tibial and sural nerves, under pentobarbital anesthesia. The acupuncture experiment consisted of four different groups, one treated at each of three different acupoints (Zusanli (ST36), Yinlingquan (SP9), and a sham-acupoint) and a control group. Behavioral tests for mechanical allodynia and cold allodynia were performed for up to two weeks postoperatively. Extracellular electrophysiological recordings were made from the dorsal roots using platinum wire electrodes. Mechanical and cold allodynia were significantly reduced after acupuncture treatment at the Zusanli and Yinlingquan acupoints, respectively. Electrophysiological neural responses to von Frey and acetone tests were also reduced after acupuncture at the same two acupoints. These results suggest that acupuncture may be beneficial in relieving neuropathic pain.
Neuropathic pain; acupuncture; acupoint; allodynia; electrophysiology
Human depression is associated with cognitive deficits. It is critical to have valid animal models in order to investigate mechanisms and treatment strategies for these associated conditions. The goal of this study was to determine the association of cognitive dysfunction with depression-like behaviour in an animal model of depression and investigate the neural circuits underlying the behaviour. Mice that were exposed to social defeat for 14 d developed depression-like behaviour, i.e. anhedonia and social avoidance as indicated by reduced sucrose preference and decreased social interaction. The assessment of cognitive performance of defeated mice demonstrated impaired working memory in the T-maze continuous alternation task and enhanced fear memory in the contextual and cued fear-conditioning tests. In contrast, reference learning and memory in the Morris water maze test were intact in defeated mice. Neuronal activation following chronic social defeat was investigated by c-fos in-situ hybridization. Defeated mice exhibited preferential neural activity in the prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, hippocampal formation, septum, amygdala, and hypothalamic nuclei. Taken together, our results suggest that the chronic social defeat mouse model could serve as a valid animal model to study depression with cognitive impairments. The patterns of neuronal activation provide a neural basis for social defeat-induced changes in behaviour.
c-fos mRNA expression; chronic social defeat; cognition; depression; fear memory; working memory