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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 Aug 2020 - 7 Aug 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Jul 29


Neurokinin 1 receptor activation in the rat spinal cord maintains latent sensitization, a model of inflammatory and neuropathic chronic pain.


Latent sensitization is a model of chronic pain in which a persistent state of pain hypersensitivity is suppressed by opioid receptors, as evidenced by the ability of opioid antagonists to induce a period of mechanical allodynia. Our objective was to determine if substance P and its neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1R) mediate the maintenance of latent sensitization. Latent sensitization was induced by injecting rats in the hindpaw with complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA), or by tibial spared nerve injury (SNI). When responses to von Frey filaments returned to baseline (day 28), the rats were injected intrathecally with saline or the NK1R antagonist RP67580, followed 15 min later by intrathecal naltrexone. In both pain models, the saline-injected rats developed allodynia for 2 h after naltrexone, but not the RP67580-injected rats. Saline or RP67580 were injected daily for two more days. Five days later (day 35), naltrexone was injected intrathecally. Again, the saline-injected rats, but not the RP67580-injected rats, developed allodynia in response to naltrexone. To determine if there is sustained activation of NK1Rs during latent sensitization, NK1R internalization was measured in lamina I neurons in rats injected in the paw with saline or CFA, and then injected intrathecally with saline or naltrexone on day 28. The rats injected with CFA had a small amount of NK1R internalization that was significantly higher than in the saline-injected rats. Naltrexone increased NK1R internalization in the CFA-injected rats but nor in the saline-injected rats. Therefore, sustained activation of NK1Rs maintains pain hypersensitivity during latent sensitization.