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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 Dec 2023 - 22 Dec 2023

2024 Feb

Brain Behav Immun Health



Poor sleep versus exercise: A duel to decide whether pain resolves or persists after injury.


Klyne DM, Hilliard BA, Harris MY, Amin M, Hall M, Besomi M, Mustafa S, Farrell SF, Rawashdeh O, Han FY, Hodges PW, Frara N, Barbe MF


Poor sleep is thought to enhance pain via increasing peripheral and/or central sensitization. Aerobic exercise, conversely, relives pain via reducing sensitization, among other mechanisms. This raises two clinical questions: (1) does poor sleep contribute to the transition from acute-to-persistent pain, and (2) can exercise protect against this transition? This study tested these questions and explored underlying mechanisms in a controlled injury model. Twenty-nine adult female Sprague-Dawley rats performed an intensive lever-pulling task for 4 weeks to induce symptoms consistent with clinical acute-onset overuse injury. Rats were then divided into three groups and exposed for 4 weeks to either: voluntary exercise via access to a running wheel, sleep disturbance, or both. Pain-related behaviours (forepaw mechanical sensitivity, reflexive grip strength), systemic levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), estradiol and corticosterone, and white blood cells (WBC) were assessed pre-injury, post-injury and post-intervention. Mechanical sensitivity increased post-injury and remained elevated with sleep disturbance alone, but decreased to pre-injury levels with exercise both with and without sleep disturbance. Reflexive grip strength decreased post-injury but recovered post-intervention-more with exercise than sleep disturbance. BDNF increased with sleep disturbance alone, remained at pre-injury levels with exercise regardless of sleep, and correlated with mechanical sensitivity. WBCs and estradiol increased with exercise alone and together with sleep disturbance, respectively. Corticosterone was not impacted by injury/intervention. Findings provide preliminary evidence for a role of poor sleep in the transition from acute-to-persistent pain, and the potential for aerobic exercise to counter these effects. BDNF might have a role in these relationships.