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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 Aug 2020 - 7 Aug 2020

Animal Studies

2020 Jul 31

Exp Neurol

Loss of diffuse noxious inhibitory control after traumatic brain injury in rats: A chronic issue.


Irvine K-A, Sahbaie P, Ferguson AR, Clark DJ
Exp Neurol. 2020 Jul 31:113428.
PMID: 32745472.


Chronic pain is one of the most challenging and debilitating symptoms to manage after traumatic brain injury (TBI), yet the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. The disruption of normal endogenous pain control mechanisms has been linked to several forms of chronic pain and may play a role in pain after TBI. We hypothesized therefore that dysfunctional descending noradrenergic and serotonergic pain control circuits may contribute to the loss of diffuse noxious inhibitory control (DNIC), a critical endogenous pain control mechanism, weeks to months after TBI. For these studies, the rat lateral fluid percussion model of mild TBI was used along with a DNIC paradigm involving a capsaicin-conditioning stimulus. We observed sustained failure of the DNIC response up to 180-days post injury. We confirmed, that descending α adrenoceptor-mediated noradrenergic signaling was critical for endogenous pain inhibition in uninjured rats. However, augmenting descending noradrenergic signaling using reboxetine, a selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor, failed to restore DNIC after TBI. Furthermore, blocking serotonin-mediated descending signaling using selective spinal serotonergic fiber depletion with 5, 7-dihydroxytryptamine was also unsuccessful at restoring endogenous pain modulation after TBI. Unexpectedly, increasing descending serotonergic signaling using the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor escitalopram and the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor duloxetine restored the DNIC response in TBI rats at both 49- and 180- days post injury. Consistent with these observations, spinal serotonergic fiber depletion with 5, 7-dihydroxytryptamine eliminated the effects of escitalopram. Intact α adrenoceptor signaling, however, was not required for the serotonin-mediated restoration of DNIC after TBI. These results suggest that TBI causes maladaptation of descending nociceptive signaling mechanisms and changes in the function of both adrenergic and serotonergic circuits. Such changes could predispose those with TBI to chronic pain.