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Intrathecal lidocaine pretreatment attenuates immediate neuropathic pain by modulating Nav1.3 expression and decreasing spinal microglial activation

Kuang-I Cheng, Chung-Sheng Lai, Fu-Yuan Wang, Hung-Chen Wang, Lin-Li Chang, Shung-Tai Ho, Hung-Pei Tsai, Aij-Li Kwan
BMC Neurology 2011, 11: 71
21676267

BACKGROUND: Intrathecal lidocaine reverses tactile allodynia after nerve injury, but whether neuropathic pain is attenuated by intrathecal lidocaine pretreatment is uncertain.

METHODS: Sixty six adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into three treatment groups: (1) sham (Group S), which underwent removal of the L6 transverse process; (2) ligated (Group L), which underwent left L5 spinal nerve ligation (SNL); and (3) pretreated (Group P), which underwent L5 SNL and was pretreated with intrathecal 2% lidocaine (50 μl). Neuropathic pain was assessed based on behavioral responses to thermal and mechanical stimuli. Expression of sodium channels (Nav1.3 and Nav1.8) in injured dorsal root ganglia and microglial proliferation/activation in the spinal cord were measured on post-operative days 3 (POD3) and 7 (POD7).

RESULTS: Group L presented abnormal behavioral responses indicative of mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia, exhibited up-regulation of Nav1.3 and down-regulation of Nav1.8, and showed increased microglial activation. Compared with ligation only, pretreatment with intrathecal lidocaine before nerve injury (Group P), as measured on POD3, palliated both mechanical allodynia (p < 0.01) and thermal hyperalgesia (p < 0.001), attenuated Nav1.3 up-regulation (p = 0.003), and mitigated spinal microglial activation (p = 0.026) by inhibiting phosphorylation (activation) of p38 MAP kinase (p = 0.034). p38 activation was also suppressed on POD7 (p = 0.002).

CONCLUSIONS: Intrathecal lidocaine prior to SNL blunts the response to noxious stimuli by attenuating Nav1.3 up-regulation and suppressing activation of spinal microglia. Although its effects are limited to 3 days, intrathecal lidocaine pretreatment can alleviate acute SNL-induced neuropathic pain.

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