Emerging research implicates the participation of spinal dorsal horn (SDH) neurons and astrocytes in nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain. However, the crosstalk between spinal astrocytes and neurons in neuropathic pain is not clear. Using a lumbar 5 (L5) spinal nerve ligation (SNL) pain model, we testified our hypothesis that SDH neurons and astrocytes reciprocally regulate each other to maintain the persistent neuropathic pain states. Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) was used as the astrocytic specific marker and Fos, protein of the protooncogene c-fos, was used as a marker for activated neurons. SNL induced a significant mechanical allodynia as well as activated SDH neurons indicated by the Fos expression at the early phase and activated astrocytes with the increased expression of GFAP during the late phase of pain, respectively. Intrathecal administration of c-fos antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (ASO) or astroglial toxin L-α-aminoadipate (L-AA) reversed the mechanical allodynia, respectively. Immunofluorescent histochemistry revealed that intrathecal administration of c-fos ASO significantly suppressed activation of not only neurons but also astrocytes induced by SNL. Meanwhile, L-AA shortened the duration of neuronal activation by SNL. Our data offers evidence that neuronal and astrocytic activations are closely related with the maintenance of neuropathic pain through a reciprocal "crosstalk". The current study suggests that neuronal and non-neuronal elements should be taken integrally into consideration for nociceptive transmission, and that the intervention of such interaction may offer some novel pain therapeutic strategies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas