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Papers of the Week

2017 Jan-Jul

Neurobiol Pain


A new aspect of chronic pain as a lifestyle-related disease.


Senba E, Kami K
Neurobiol Pain. 2017 Jan-Jul; 1:6-15.
PMID: 31194049.


Physical exercise has been established as a low-cost, safe, and effective way to manage chronic intractable pain. We investigated the underlying mechanisms of exercise-induced hypoalgesia (EIH) using a mouse model of neuropathic pain (NPP). Epigenetic changes in activated microglia and maintained GABA synthesis in the spinal dorsal horn may contribute to EIH. Voluntary exercise (VE), a strong reward for animals, also induced EIH, which may be due in part to the activation of dopamine (DA) neurons in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). VE increases the expression of pCREB in dopaminergic neurons in the VTA, which would enhance dopamine production, and thereby contributes to the activation of the mesolimbic reward system in NPP model mice. We demonstrated that neurons in the laterodorsal tegmental and pedunculopontine tegmental nuclei, a major input source of rewarding stimuli to the VTA, were activated by exercise. Chronic pain is at least partly attributed to sedentary and inactive lifestyle as indicated by the Fear-avoidance model. Therefore, chronic pain could be recognized as a lifestyle-related disease. Physical activity/inactivity may be determined by genetic/epigenetic and neural factors encoded in our brain. The hypothalamus and reward system is closely related in the axis of food intake, energy metabolism and physical activity. Understanding the interactions between the mesolimbic DA system and the hypothalamus that sense and regulate energy balance is thus of significant importance. For example, proopiomelanocortin neurons and melanocortin 4 receptors may play a role in connecting these two systems. Therefore, in a certain sense, chronic pain and obesity may share common behavioral and neural pathology, i.e. physical inactivity, as a result of inactivation of the mesolimbic DA system. Exercise and increasing physical activity in daily life may be important in treating and preventing chronic pain, a life-style related disease.