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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 Feb 2019 - 22 Feb 2019

Animal Studies

2019 May

Exp Neurol


Parkinson’s disease and pain: Modulation of nociceptive circuitry in a rat model of nigrostriatal lesion.


Domenici RA, Campos A CP, Maciel ST, Berzuino MB, Hernandes MS, Fonoff ET, Pagano RL
Exp Neurol. 2019 May; 315:72-81.
PMID: 30772369.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes progressive dysfunction of dopaminergic and non-dopaminergic neurons, generating motor and nonmotor signs and symptoms. Pain is reported as the most bothersome nonmotor symptom in PD; however, pain remains overlooked and poorly understood. In this study, we evaluated the nociceptive behavior and the descending analgesia circuitry in a rat model of PD. Three independent experiments were performed to investigate: i) thermal nociceptive behavior; ii) mechanical nociceptive behavior and dopaminergic repositioning; and iii) modulation of the pain control circuitry. The rat model of PD, induced by unilateral striatal 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA), did not interfere with thermal nociceptive responses; however, the mechanical nociceptive threshold was decreased bilaterally compared to that of naive or striatal saline-injected rats. This response was reversed by apomorphine or levodopa treatment. Striatal 6-OHDA induced motor impairments and reduced dopaminergic neuron immunolabeling as well as the pattern of neuronal activation (c-Fos) in the substantia nigra ipsilateral (IPL) to the lesion. In the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG), 6-OHDA-induced lesion increased IPL and decreased contralateral PAG GABAergic labeling compared to control. In the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, lesioned rats showed bilateral inhibition of enkephalin and μ-opioid receptor labeling. Taken together, we demonstrated that the unilateral 6-OHDA-induced PD model induces bilateral mechanical hypernociception, which is reversed by dopamine restoration, changes in the PAG circuitry, and inhibition of spinal opioidergic regulation, probably due to impaired descending analgesic control. A better understanding of pain mechanisms in PD patients is critical for developing better therapeutic strategies to improve their quality of life.