Abstract: Reduced basal release of serotonin from the ventrobasal thalamus of the rat in a model of neuropathic pain

Pain 2002 Sep;99(1-2):359  Goettl V, Huang Y, Hackshaw K, Stephens R.  Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, College of Medicine and Public Health, The Ohio State University, 304 Hamilton Hall, 1645 Neil Avenue, College of Medicine and Public Health, 43210, Columbus, OH, USA

Drugs that inhibit reuptake of monoamines are frequently used to treat pain syndromes, e.g. neuropathy or fibromyalgia, where mechanical allodynia is present. Several lines of evidence suggest the involvement of supraspinal sites of action of these drugs. However, a direct study of supraspinal serotonin (5-HT) or norepinephrine (NE) release in an animal model in which allodynia is expressed, e.g. neuropathy, has not been done. The ventrobasal (VB) thalamus and the hypothalamus are major supraspinal projection regions for spinal neurons that transmit nociceptive information and are innervated by monoaminergic fibers. This study determined if peripheral neuropathy would induce changes in extracellular monoamines in VB thalamus and hypothalamus.

Male Sprague-Dawley rats had spinal nerve roots L5 and L6 tightly ligated (neuropathic rats; NP) or sham (SHAM) surgery; contralateral and ipsilateral VB thalamus and contralateral hypothalamus were dialyzed with modified artificial cerebral spinal fluid (aCSF), with and without fluoxetine. NP rats had significantly decreased 5-HT content in dialysates of the contralateral VB thalamus compared with SHAM rats with (82% decrease) or without (63% decrease) fluoxetine in the perfusion medium over the 180 min of the study.

There were no differences in the ipsilateral VB thalamus. In contrast, release of 5-HT was unchanged in the hypothalamic dialysates of SHAM vs. NP rats. NE release was not different in dialysates of either the VB thalamus or hypothalamus of SHAM vs. NP rats. Synthesis of 5-HT, as assessed by accumulation of 5-hydroxytrytophan after treatment with an L-amino acid decarboxylase inhibitor, was not different between NP and SHAM rats in VB thalamic and hypothalamic brain tissue.

This study is the first to demonstrate changes in monoamine release supraspinally in NP rats. The differential effect between VB thalamus and hypothalamus suggests that a terminal field change may be involved. Putative mechanisms for mediating this change include alterations of GABA-ergic systems and/or plasticity related to alterations in N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor activation and nitric oxide release related to afferent hyperactivity induced by neuropathic pain.

PMID: 12237215 [PubMed – in process]

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