Ketamine depresses toll-like receptor 3 signaling in spinal microglia in a rat model of neuropathic pain

Xiao Peng Mei, Yang Zhou, Wei Wang, Jun Tang, Wen Wang, Hui Zhang, Li Xian Xu, Yun Qing Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Reports suggest that microglia play a key role in spinal nerve ligation (SNL)-induced neuropathic pain, and toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) has a substantial role in the activation of spinal microglia and the development of tactile allodynia after nerve injury. In addition, ketamine application could suppress microglial activation in vitro, and ketamine could inhibit proinflammatory gene expression possibly by suppressing TLR-mediated signal transduction. Therefore, the present study was designed to disclose whether intrathecal ketamine could suppress SNL-induced spinal microglial activation and exert some antiallodynic effects on neuropathic pain by suppressing TLR3 activation. Behavioral results showed that intrathecal ketamine attenuated SNL-induced mechanical allodynia, as well as spinal microglial activation, in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, Western blot analysis displayed that ketamine application downregulated SNL-induced phosphorylated-p38 (p-p38) expression, which was specifically expressed in spinal microglia but not in astrocytes or neurons. Besides, ketamine could reverse TLR3 agonist (polyinosine-polycytidylic acid)-induced mechanical allodynia and spinal microglia activation. It was concluded that intrathecal ketamine depresses TLR3-induced spinal microglial p-p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway activation after SNL, probably contributing to the antiallodynic effect of ketamine on SNL-induced neuropathic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Analgesic
  • Glia
  • Microglia
  • Mitogen-activated protein kinase
  • Toll-like receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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