JOURNAL ARTICLE

Secondary heat, but not mechanical, hyperalgesia induced by subcutaneous injection of bee venom in the conscious rat: effect of systemic MK-801, a non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist

H S Chen, J Chen
European Journal of Pain: EJP 2000, 4 (4): 389-401
11124011
Subcutaneous (s.c.) administration of bee venom into the plantar surface of one hind paw in rats has been found to produce an immediate single phase of persistent spontaneous nociceptive responses (continuously flinching, licking or lifting the injected paw) for 1-2 h accompanied by a 72-96 hour period of primary heat and mechanical hyperalgesia in the injection site and a spread of heat, but not mechanical, hyperalgesia in the non-injected hind paw (Chen et al., 1999b). To gain insight into the underlying mechanisms of the bee venom-induced hyperalgesia in particular, we further identified a heat, but not mechanical, hyperalgesia in an area (paw pad) distant from the injection site induced by s.c. injection of bee venom into the posterior leg 0.8-1.2 cm proximal to the heel measured by paw withdrawal reflex to radiant heat or von Frey monofilament stimuli in conscious rats. In the bee venom-treated hind limb, however, significant reduction in both thermal latency and mechanical threshold of withdrawal reflex was identified for a period of more than 96 h in the heel with a similar characteristic to the primary heat and mechanical hyperalgesia identified in the injection site previously. The time course of the heat hyperalgesia identified in the paw pad of the bee venom-treated side was shorter and lasted for less than 48 h, which was in parallel with the reduction in thermal latency of the withdrawal reflex identified in the non-injected hind paw. Moreover, pre- or post-treatment with a single dose of MK-801 (0.01 mg/kg, i.p.), a non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, completely blocked the occurrence, and reversed the established process of the heat hyperalgesia identified in either the bee venom-treated or non-treated paw pads, while the same treatments with the drug did not produce any influence upon the development and maintaining of the heat and mechanical hyperalgesia identified in the heel of the injected hind limb. Taken together with our previous results following s.c. intraplantar bee venom injection, we conclude that: (1) in addition to the well-identified primary heat and mechanical hyperalgesia in the injection site and its adjacent area, s.c. bee venom is also able to produce a secondary heat hyperalgesia in a region distant from the injection site which has a similar characteristic to the contralateral heat hyperalgesia; (2) NMDA receptors are involved in either development or maintenance of the secondary and the contralateral heat hyperalgesia, but without any role in those processes of the primary heat and mechanical hyperalgesia; (3) the secondary heat hyperalgesia seen in the injected hind limb is likely to share the same neural mechanisms with that identified in the non-injected side via co-activation of NMDA receptors.

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