Involvement of microglia and interleukin-18 in the induction of long-term potentiation of spinal nociceptive responses induced by tetanic sciatic stimulation

Yu-Xia Chu, Yu-Qiu Zhang, Zhi-Qi Zhao
Neuroscience Bulletin 2012, 28 (1): 49-60

OBJECTIVE: The present study aimed to investigate the potential roles of spinal microglia and downstream molecules in the induction of spinal long-term potentiation (LTP) and mechanical allodynia by tetanic stimulation of the sciatic nerve (TSS).

METHODS: Spinal LTP was induced in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats by tetanic stimulation of the sciatic nerve (0.5 ms, 100 Hz, 40 V, 10 trains of 2-s duration at 10-s intervals). Mechanical allodynia was determined using von Frey hairs. Immunohistochemical staining and Western blot were used to detect changes in glial expression of interleukin-18 (IL-18) and IL-18 receptor (IL-18R).

RESULTS: TSS induced LTP of C-fiber-evoked field potentials in the spinal cord. Intrathecal administration of the microglial inhibitor minocycline (200 μg/20 μL) 1 h before TSS completely blocked the induction of spinal LTP. Furthermore, after intrathecal injection of minocycline (200 μg/20 μL) by lumbar puncture 1 h before TSS, administration of minocycline for 7 consecutive days (once per day) partly inhibited bilateral allodynia. Immunohistochemistry showed that minocycline inhibited the sequential activation of microglia and astrocytes, and IL-18 was predominantly colocalized with the microglial marker Iba-1 in the spinal superficial dorsal horn. Western blot revealed that repeated intrathecal injection of minocycline significantly inhibited the increased expression of IL-18 and IL-18Rs in microglia induced by TSS.

CONCLUSION: The IL-18 signaling pathway in microglia is involved in TSS-induced spinal LTP and mechanical allodynia.

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