BACKGROUND: Contralateral hyperalgesia, occurring after unilateral injury, is usually explained by central sensitization in spinal cord and brain. We previously reported that injection of endothelin-1 (ET-1) into one rat hindpaw induces prolonged mechanical and chemical sensitization of the contralateral hindpaw. Here, we examined the role of contralateral efferent activity in this process. METHODS: ET-1 (2 nmol, 10 μsL) was injected subcutaneously into the plantar surface of right (ipsilateral) hindpaw (ILP), and the thermal response latency and mechanical threshold for nocifensive withdrawal were determined by the use of, respectively, plantar radiant heating and von Frey filaments, for both ILP and contralateral hindpaws (CLP). Either paw was anesthetized for 60 minutes by direct injection of bupivacaine (0.25%, 40 μL), 30 minutes before ET-1. Alternatively, the contralateral sciatic nerve was blocked for 6 to 12 hours by percutaneous injection of bupivacaine-releasing microspheres 30 minutes before injection of ET-1. Systemic actions of these bupivacaine formulations were simulated by subcutaneous injection at the nuchal midline. RESULTS: After the injection of ET-1, the mechanical threshold of both ILP and CLP decreased by 2 hours, appeared to be lowest around 24 hours, and recovered through 48 hours to preinjection baseline at 72 hours. These hypersensitive responses were suppressed by bupivacaine injected into the ipsilateral paw before ET-1. Injection of the CLP by bupivacaine also suppressed the hypersensitivity of the CLP at all test times, and that of the ILP, except at 2 hours when it increased the sensitivity. This same pattern of change occurred when the contralateral sciatic nerve was blocked by bupivacaine-releasing microspheres. The systemic actions of these bupivacaine formulations were much smaller and only reached significance at 24 hours post-ET-1. Thermal hypersensitivity after ET-1 injection also occurred in both ILP and CLP and showed the same pattern in response to the 2 contralateral anesthetic procedures. CONCLUSIONS: These results show that efferent transmission through the contralateral innervation into the paw is necessary for contralateral sensitization by ET-1, suggesting that the release of substances by distal nerve endings is involved. The release of substances in the periphery is essential for contralateral sensitization by ET-1 and may also contribute to secondary hyperalgesia, occurring at loci distant from the primary injury, that occurs after surgery or nerve damage.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine