Sympathectomy decreases formalin-induced nociceptive responses independent of changes in peripheral blood flow

Perry N. Fuchs, Matthias Ringkamp, Masako Shiotani, Srinivasa N. Raja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The present experiments studied the effect of surgical sympathectomy on mechanical paw withdrawal thresholds and formalin-induced pain behaviors (FIPB) and tested if the effect of sympathectomy on FIPB is dependent on changes in peripheral blood flow. Compared to sham-operated animals, surgical sympathectomy decreased second phase FIPB but did not affect paw withdrawal thresholds to mechanical stimuli. In sympathectomized and sham-operated animals, subcutaneous intraplantar injection of the nonadrenergic vasoconstrictor angiotensin II (20 μl, 1 mM) or the nonadrenergic vasodilator hydralazine (20 μl, 1 mM) prior to formalin injection decreased and increased peripheral blood flow, respectively. In sympathectomized animals, pretreatment with angiotensin II inhibited the increase of peripheral blood flow following formalin injection when compared to animals pretreated with saline or hydralazine. In sham-operated animals, pretreatment with hydralazine or angiotensin II did not alter vasodilation after formalin injection when compared to pretreatment with saline. Pretreatment with vasoactive drugs had no effect on the sympathectomy-induced decrease in FIPB. It is concluded that sympathectomy decreases FIPB by mechanisms that are independent of sympathectomy-induced changes in peripheral blood flow. The formalin test is an easy, reliable model that can be used to study the mechanisms by which the sympathetic nervous system modulates pain processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999


  • Analgesia
  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Sympathetic nervous system
  • Sympathetically maintained pain
  • Tonic pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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