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Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Sep 2023 - 8 Sep 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Acute Pain

2023 Sep 04

Physiol Behav


Ovariectomy induces hyperalgesia accompanied by upregulated estrogen receptor α and protein kinase B in the rat spinal cord.


Li LH, Ling DD, Lin H, Wang ZC, Sun ZR, Zhang YQ, Yang L, Zhang J, Cao H


Hormone supplementation is one of the common therapies for menopause-related disorders. Among different tools, the ovariectomy (OVX) rodents are widely accepted as an appropriate menopausal pain model. Our previous study has showed that OVX produces a significant pain facilitation in both acute pain and tonic pain, however, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In this study, we examined the effects of OVX treatment and estradiol (E2) supplementation on formalin-induced nociceptive responses, and explored the associated spinal mechanisms. Female Sprague-Dawley rats underwent bilateral OVX, and E2 supplementation was given subcutaneously from the 5 week after surgery (30 μg/day for 7 days). Our results showed that formalin-induced nociceptive behaviors did not differ between diestrus and proestrus stages of the estrous in intact rats. However, OVX exacerbated formalin-evoked inflammatory pain, especially in the late phase at 4-5 weeks but not 2 weeks post-surgery. E2 supplementation significantly reversed the OVX-triggered hyperalgesia. Double immunofluorescence staining revealed that both ERα and ERβ in the spinal dorsal horn were co-labeled with the neuronal markers, but not with markers of astrocytes or microglia. The spinal ERα (but not ERβ) expression significantly increased in the OVX group, which was reversed by E2 supplementation. Moreover, the OVX individuals showed an increased protein kinase B (AKT) level in lumbar spinal cord, and E2 supplementation diminished the AKT expression in OVX rats. Finally, intrathecal injection Wortmannin, an inhibitor for AKT signaling, effectively reduced the nociceptive behaviors in the late phase and the number of c-fos positive cells. Together, our findings indicate that E2 supplementation alleviates the OVX-induced hyperalgesia, which might be involved in spinal ERα and AKT mechanisms.