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TitleAntinociception induced by chronic glucocorticoid treatment is correlated to local modulation of spinal neurotransmitter content.
Author(s)Almeida, Armando
Ribeiro, Filipa Pinto
Pêgo, José M.
Sousa, Nuno
Leão, Pedro
Moreira, Vitor
Issue dateJul-2009
JournalMolecular Pain
Abstract(s)BACKGROUND: While acute effects of stress on pain are well described, those produced by chronic stress are still a matter of dispute. Previously we demonstrated that chronic unpredictable stress results in antinociception in the tail-flick test, an effect that is mediated by increased levels of corticosteroids. In the present study, we evaluated nociception in rats after chronic treatment with corticosterone (CORT) and dexamethasone (DEX) in order to discriminate the role of each type of corticosteroid receptors in antinociception. RESULTS: Both experimental groups exhibited a pronounced antinociceptive effect after three weeks of treatment when compared to controls (CONT); however, at four weeks the pain threshold in CORT-treated animals returned to basal levels whereas in DEX-treated rats antinociception was maintained. In order to assess if these differences are associated with altered expression of neuropeptides involved in nociceptive transmission we evaluated the density of substance P (SP), calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), somatostatin (SS) and B2-gamma-aminobutiric acid receptors (GABAB2) expression in the spinal dorsal horn using light density measurements and stereological techniques. After three weeks of treatment the expression of CGRP in the superficial dorsal horn was significantly decreased in both CORT and DEX groups, while GABAB2 was significantly increased; the levels of SP for both experimental groups remained unchanged at this point. At 4 weeks, CGRP and SP are reduced in DEX-treated animals and GABAB2 unchanged, but all changes were restored to CONT levels in CORT-treated animals. The expression of SS remained unaltered throughout the experimental period. CONCLUSION: These data indicate that corticosteroids modulate nociception since chronic corticosteroid treatment alters the expression of neuropeptides involved in nociceptive transmission at the spinal cord level. As previously observed in some supraspinal areas, the exclusive GR activation resulted in more profound and sustained behavioural and neurochemical changes, than the one observed with a mixed ligand of corticosteroid receptors. These results might be of relevance for the pharmacological management of certain types of chronic pain, in which corticosteroids are used as adjuvant analgesics.
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AccessOpen access
Appears in Collections:ICVS - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais com Referee

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