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J Neurosci. 1995 Nov;15(11):7575-84.

Persistent cardiovascular and behavioral nociceptive responses to subcutaneous formalin require peripheral nerve input.

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  • 1W. M. Keck Foundation Center for Integrative Neuroscience, University of California at San Francisco 94143, USA.


Hindpaw injection of formalin produces acute (Phase 1) and persistent (Phase 2) nociceptive behaviors. This model has provided critical evidence supporting a contribution of central sensitization (hyperexcitability of spinal neurons) to the expression of persistent pain. Here, we evaluated the contribution of ongoing peripheral nerve inputs to Phase 2 pain responses. In addition to pain behavior (flinching), we measured formalin-evoked increases in arterial pressure and heart rate; these cardiovascular responses were also biphasic in nature. The arterial pressure response correlated highly with behavior, and was dependent on formalin concentration (0.625-5.0%), indicating that it was largely driven by noxious input. Lightly anesthetized (0.7% halothane) rats exhibited robust increases in blood pressure in the absence of pain behavior, indicating cardiovascular responses did not reflect somatomotor-cardiovascular coupling. Animals obtained from Charles River exhibited slightly larger Phase 2 flinching and heart rate responses compared to those obtained from Bantin and Kingman, suggesting cardiovascular-related pain responses can vary with the source of animal. We next evaluated the contribution of ongoing peripheral nerve activity to the expression of the Phase 2 pressor, tachycardia, and flinch responses. After Phase 1 subsided, but before Phase 2 began, we locally anesthetized the ipsilateral or contralateral (control) hindpaw with a hydrophilic lidocaine derivative, QX-314 (2%). Intraplantar QX-314 blocked Phase 2 pressor, tachycardia and behavioral responses only when injected into the paw that received formalin (2.5% or 10.0%). We conclude that persistent ongoing activity in peripheral afferent fibers during Phase 2 is required for the persistent pain evoked by formalin.

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