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Papers of the Week

Papers: 18 Mar 2023 - 24 Mar 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Neuroimaging

Musculoskeletal Pain, Orofacial/Head Pain

2023 Mar 21

J Pain


Persistent changes in mechanical nociception in rats with traumatic brain injury involving polytrauma.


Wong KR, Wright DK, Sgro M, Salberg S, Bain J, Li C, Sun M, McDonald SJ, Mychasiuk R, Brady RD, Shultz SR


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors often experience debilitating consequences. Due to the high impact nature of TBI, patients often experience concomitant peripheral injuries (i.e., polytrauma). A common, yet often overlooked, comorbidity of TBI is chronic pain. Therefore, this study investigated how common concomitant peripheral injuries (i.e., femoral fracture and muscle crush) can affect long-term behavioral and structural TBI outcomes with a particular focus on nociception. Rats were randomly assigned to one of four groups: polytrauma (POLY; i.e., fracture + muscle crush + TBI), peripheral injury (PERI; i.e., fracture + muscle crush + sham TBI), TBI (i.e., sham fracture + sham muscle crush + TBI), and sham-injured (SHAM; i.e., sham fracture + sham muscle crush + sham TBI). Rats underwent behavioral testing at 3-, 6-, and 11-weeks post-injury, and were then euthanized for post-mortem magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). POLY rats had a persisting increase in pain sensitivity compared to all groups on the von Frey test. MRI revealed that POLY rats also had abnormalities in the cortical and subcortical brain structures involved in nociceptive processing. These findings have important implications and provide a foundation for future studies to determine the underlying mechanisms and potential treatment strategies for chronic pain in TBI survivors. PERSPECTIVE: Rats with TBI and concomitant peripheral trauma displayed chronic nociceptive pain and MRI images also revealed damaged brain structures/pathways that are involved in chronic pain development. This study highlights the importance of polytrauma and the affected brain regions for developing chronic pain.