I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 Dec 2023 - 22 Dec 2023


Neurobiol Pain



Gene expression changes in the cerebellum are associated with persistent post-injury pain in adolescent rats exposed to early life stress.


Salberg S, Li CN, Beveridge JK, Noel M, Yamakawa GR, Mychasiuk R


Chronic pain develops following injury in approximately 20% of adolescents, at twice the rate in females than males. Adverse childhood experiences also increase the risk for poor health outcomes, such as chronic pain. Emerging literature suggests the cerebellum to be involved in pain processing, however detailed explorations into how the cerebellum contributes to pain are lacking. Therefore, this study aimed to characterise chronic pain outcomes and cerebellar gene expression changes following early life stress and injury in both sexes. The adverse childhood experience of neglect was modelled using a maternal separation (MS) paradigm, which was combined with a subsequent injury (mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or plantar incision surgery) in adolescent male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. We measured behavioural nociceptive sensitivity, systemic modulators of pain such as calcitonin gene-related protein (CGRP) and Substance P, as well as gene expression of , and in the cerebellum to examine associations between pain and neuroinflammation, the stress response, inhibitory neurotransmission, and monoaminergic function. We found increases in mechanical nociceptive sensitivity following plantar incision surgery. Sex differences were observed in anxiety-like behaviour and neuroinflammation, whereas systemic pain modulators showed cumulative effects with the addition of stressors. Most interestingly however, the increases in nociceptive sensitivity were associated with the suppressed expression of cerebellar genes that regulate stress, inhibition, cannabinoid function, and dopaminergic function, alongside sex-dependent distinctions for genes involved in inflammation and injury. This study highlights a novel link between nociception and molecular function in the cerebellum. Further investigation into how the cerebellum contributes to pain in males and females will facilitate novel therapeutic insights and opportunities.