Anti-allodynic effect of Buja in a rat model of oxaliplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy via spinal astrocytes and pro-inflammatory cytokines suppression

Yongjae Jung, Ji Hwan Lee, Woojin Kim, Sang Hyub Yoon, Sun Kwang Kim
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2017 January 14, 17 (1): 48

BACKGROUND: Oxaliplatin, a widely used anticancer drug against metastatic colorectal cancer, can induce acute peripheral neuropathy, which is characterized by cold and mechanical allodynia. Activation of glial cells (e.g. astrocytes and microglia) and increase of pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. IL-1β and TNF-α) in the spinal cord play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of neuropathic pain. Our previous study demonstrated that Gyejigachulbu-Tang (GBT), a herbal complex formula, alleviates oxaliplatin-induced neuropathic pain in rats by suppressing spinal glial activation. However, it remains to be elucidated whether and how Buja (Aconiti Tuber), a major ingredient of GBT, is involved in the efficacy of GBT.

METHODS: Cold and mechanical allodynia induced by an oxaliplatin injection (6 mg/kg, i.p.) in Sprauge-Dawley rats were evaluated by a tail immersion test in cold water (4 °C) and a von Frey hair test, respectively. Buja (300 mg/kg) was orally administrated for five consecutive days after the oxaliplatin injection. Glial activation in the spinal cord was quantified by immunohistochemical staining using GFAP (for astrocytes) and Iba-1 (for microglia) antibodies. The amount of spinal pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1β and TNF-α, were measured by ELISA.

RESULTS: Significant behavioral signs of cold and mechanical allodynia were observed 3 days after an oxaliplatin injection. Oral administration of Buja significantly alleviated oxaliplatin-induced cold and mechanical allodynia by increasing the tail withdrawal latency to cold stimuli and mechanical threshold. Immunohistochemical analysis showed the activation of astrocytes and microglia and the increase of the IL-1β and TNF-α levels in the spinal cord after an oxaliplatin injection. Administration of Buja suppressed the activation of spinal astrocytes without affecting microglial activation and down-regulated both IL-1β and TNF-α levels in the spinal cord.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that Buja has a potent anti-allodynic effect in a rat model of oxaliplatin-induced neuropathic pain, which is associated with the inhibition of activation of astrocytes and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the spinal cord. Thus, our findings suggest that administration of Buja could be an alternative therapeutic option for the management of peripheral neuropathy, a common side-effect of oxaliplatin.

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