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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Feb 2019 - 1 Mar 2019

Animal Studies

2019 Jul

Brain Behav Immun


Perioperative activation of spinal α7 nAChR promotes recovery from preoperative stress-induced prolongation of postsurgical pain.


Sun R, Liu Y, Hou B, Lei Y, Bo J, Zhang W, Sun Y'e, Zhang Y, Zhang Z, Liu Z, Huo W, Mao Y, Ma Z, Gu X
Brain Behav Immun. 2019 Jul; 79:294-308.
PMID: 30797046.


Preoperative stress could delay the recovery of postoperative pain and has been reported to be a risk factor for chronic postsurgical pain. As stress could facilitate the proinflammatory activation of microglia, we hypothesized that these cells may play a vital role in the development of preoperative stress-induced pain chronification after surgery. Our experiments were conducted in a rat model that consists of a single prolonged stress (SPS) procedure and plantar incision. A previous SPS exposure induced anxiety-like behaviors, prolonged incision-induced mechanical allodynia, and potentiated the activation of spinal microglia. Based on the results from ex vivo experiments, spinal microglia isolated from SPS-exposed rats secreted more proinflammatory cytokines upon challenge with LPS. Our results also demonstrated that microglia played a more important role than astrocytes in the initiation of SPS-induced prolongation of postsurgical pain. We further explored the therapeutic potential of agonism of α7 nAChR, an emerging anti-inflammatory target, for SPS-induced prolongation of postsurgical pain. Multiple intrathecal (i.t.) injections of PHA-543613 (an α7 nAChR agonist) or PNU-120596 (a type II positive allosteric modulator) during the perioperative period shortened the duration of postsurgical pain after SPS and suppressed SPS-potentiated microglia activation, but their effects were abolished by pretreatment with methyllycaconitine (an α7 nAChR antagonist; i.t.). Based on the results from ex vivo experiments, the anti-inflammatory effects of PHA-543613 and PNU-120596 may have been achieved by the direct modulation of microglia. In conclusion, stress-induced priming of spinal microglia played a key role in the initiation of preoperative stress-induced prolongation of postsurgical pain, and PHA-543613 and PNU-120596 may be potential candidates for preventing pain chronification after surgery.