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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Mar 2022 - 25 Mar 2022

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 Mar 19

Neurosci Lett

Buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, prevents modulation of H-reflex induced by pulsed electromagnetic stimulation in spinal cord injured rats.


Our recent study revealed that spinal electromagnetic stimulation (sEMS) applied at low (0.2Hz) frequencies may improve diminished transmission in damaged spinal cord in spinal cord injured (SCI) rats. We have recently begun a pilot study investigating the effects of sEMS in non-injured and SCI humans. One unexpected result was the reduction of chronic low back pain (CLBP), reported by some patients following sEMS treatment. Chronic low back pain is one of the main causes of disability affecting the general population. Opioids are the most common drugs prescribed to US adults with CLBP. To optimize parameters for sEMS for pain treatment, in this study we used the SCI animal model and examined effects of sEMS applied at lumbosacral level on parameters and frequency-dependent depression (FDD) of Hoffmann H-reflex responses, known as common neurophysiological measures for evaluation of sensorimotor condition and plasticity in humans. We have also examined the interactive effects of sEMS and the opiate partial agonist Buprenorphine on the parameters of H-reflex in naïve and SCI rats. Consistent with previous reports, chronic SCI resulted in a marked decrease of threshold intensity required to evoke H-reflex and a lesser rate of FDD of the H-response in adult rats. Our current study revealed the optimum parameters of spinal EMS for best recovery of the properties of the H-reflex in chronic SCI animals. Here we demonstrate that electro-magnetic stimulation applied at spinal L4-L5 level with a pulsed mode (pulse at 20 Hz frequency for 5 sec with 25 sec break between pulses, total 40 trains for 20 minutes; PSEMS) reversed effects of SCI on key parameters of H-reflex: i.e. (1) restored the threshold intensity of electric current applied at tibial nerve to evoke the H-reflex and (2) recovered FDD properties of the H-reflex in SCI rats. Importantly, subcutaneous injections of Buprenorphine, prior to PSEMS administration, abolished the ability of PSEMS to recover both threshold intensity and FDD of the H-reflex in chronic SCI animals. These results suggest that a semi-synthetic opioid Buprenorphine and PSEMS might share common sites of action. We thus conclude that PSEMS might carry potential as a non-invasive treatment approach for chronic low back pain.