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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Feb 2019 - 1 Mar 2019

Animal Studies

2019 Feb 28

Sci Rep



Ovarian Hormone-dependent and Spinal ERK Activation-regulated Nociceptive Hypersensitivity in Female Rats with Acid Injection-induced Chronic Widespread Muscle Pain.


Symptoms of chronic widespread muscle pain (CWP) meet most of the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia syndrome, which is prevalent in females. We used an acid injection-induced muscle pain (AIMP) model to mimic CWP. After female rats received an ovariectomy (OVX), acid saline solution was injected into the left gastrocnemius muscle. Time courses of changes in pain behaviours and p-ERK in the spinal cord were compared between groups. Intrathecal injections of oestradiol (E2) to the OVX group before two acid injections and E2 or progesterone (P4) injections in male rats were compared to evaluate hormone effects. We found that repeated acid injections produced mechanical hypersensitivity and enhanced p-ERK expression in the spinal dorsal horn. OVX rats exhibited significantly less tactile allodynia than did the rats in the other groups. The ERK inhibitor U0126 alleviated mechanical allodynia with lower p-ERK expression in the sham females but did not affect the OVX rats. Intrathecal E2 reversed the attenuated mechanical hypersensitivity in the OVX group, and E2 or P4 induced transient hyperalgesia in male rats. Accordingly, our results suggested that ovarian hormones contribute to AIMP through a spinal p-ERK-mediated pathway. These findings may partially explain the higher prevalence of fibromyalgia in females than males.