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Pain. 2001 Feb 1;90(1-2):113-25.

Differential regulation of NGF receptors in primary sensory neurons by adjuvant-induced arthritis in the rat.

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INSERM U421, IM3, Faculté de Médecine de Créteil, 94010 Cédex, Créteil, France.


In the adult brain, neurotrophins play a key role in adaptive processes linked to increased neuronal activity. A growing body of evidence suggests that chronic pain results from long-term plasticity of central pathways involved in nociception. We have investigated the involvement of nerve growth factor (NGF) in adaptive responses of primary sensory neurons during the course of a long-lasting inflammatory pain model. The amount and distribution of the NGF receptors p75(NTR) and TrkA were measured in the dorsal horn and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of animals subjected to Freund's adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA). We observed an increased immunoreactivity of both receptors in the central terminals of primary sensory neurons in the arthritic state. The increases were seen in the same population of afferent terminals in deep dorsal horn laminae. These changes paralleled the variations of clinical and behavioral parameters that characterize the course of the disease. They occurred in NGF-sensitive, but not GDNF-sensitive, nerve terminals. However, p75(NTR) and TrkA protein levels in the DRG (in the cell body of these neurons) showed different response patterns. An immediate rise of p75(NTR) was seen in parallel with the initial inflammation that developed after administration of Freund's adjuvant in hindpaws. In contrast, increases of the mature (gp140(trk)) form of TrkA occurred later and seemed to be linked to the development of the long-lasting inflammatory response. The changes in receptor expression were observed exclusively at lumbar levels, L3-L5, somatotopically appropriate for the inflammation. Together, these results implicate NGF in long-term mechanisms accompanying chronic inflammatory pain, via the up-regulation of its high affinity receptor, and offer additional evidence for differential processes underlying short- versus long-lasting inflammatory pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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