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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 Jun 2022 - 1 Jul 2022

2022 Aug-Dec

Neurobiol Pain


Comprehensive phenotyping of cutaneous afferents reveals early-onset alterations in nociceptor response properties, release of CGRP, and hindpaw edema following spinal cord injury.


Eller OC, Stair RN, Neal C, Rowe PSN, Nelson-Brantley J, Young EE, Baumbauer KM
Neurobiol Pain. 2022 Aug-Dec; 12:100097.
PMID: 35756343.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a complex syndrome that has profound effects on patient well-being, including the development of medically-resistant chronic pain. The mechanisms underlying SCI pain have been the subject of thorough investigation but remain poorly understood. While the majority of the research has focused on changes occurring within and surrounding the site of injury in the spinal cord, there is now a consensus that alterations within the peripheral nervous system, namely sensitization of nociceptors, contribute to the development and maintenance of chronic SCI pain. Using an skin/nerve/DRG/spinal cord preparation to characterize afferent response properties following SCI, we found that SCI increased mechanical and thermal responding, as well as the incidence of spontaneous activity (SA) and afterdischarge (AD), in below-level C-fiber nociceptors 24 hr following injury relative to naïve controls. Interestingly, the distribution of nociceptors that exhibit SA and AD are not identical, and the development of SA was observed more frequently in nociceptors with low heat thresholds, while AD was found more frequently in nociceptors with high heat thresholds. We also found that SCI resulted in hindpaw edema and elevated cutaneous calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) concentration that were not observed in naïve mice. These results suggest that SCI causes a rapidly developing nociceptor sensitization and peripheral inflammation that may contribute to the early emergence and persistence of chronic SCI pain.