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Exp Neurol. 2006 Jun;199(2):397-407. Epub 2006 Feb 14.

Increases in the activated forms of ERK 1/2, p38 MAPK, and CREB are correlated with the expression of at-level mechanical allodynia following spinal cord injury.

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Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Mail Route 1043 Galveston, TX 77555-1043, USA.


Rats given moderate spinal cord injury (SCI) display increases in the expression of the activated form of the transcription factor cyclic AMP responsive element binding protein (CREB) in spinal segments of dermatomes corresponding to permanent mechanical allodynia, a model of chronic central neuropathic pain (CNP; (Crown, E.D., Ye, Z., Johnson, K.M., Xu, G.Y., McAdoo, D.J., Westlund, K.N., Hulsebosch, C.E., 2005. Upregulation of the phosphorylated form of CREB in spinothalamic tract cells following spinal cord injury: relation to central neuropathic pain. Neurosci. Lett. 384, 139-144)). Given that not all rats that receive moderate SCI develop CNP, the current study was designed to further analyze changes in persistent CREB activation and in the activation state of upstream intracellular signaling cascades (e.g., mitogen-activated protein kinases [MAPKs]) in populations of rats that receive SCI and weeks later develop CNP and rats that receive SCI but do not develop CNP. The results indicate that activated kinases such as pERK 1/2, p-p38 MAPK, but not pJNK, are upregulated in injured rats that develop CNP as compared to injured rats that fail to develop CNP. In addition, the current results replicated our previous finding that activated CREB is upregulated following SCI, however, only in SCI rats that developed CNP. Taken together, these results indicate that activation of intracellular signaling cascades traditionally associated with long-term potentiation and memory is associated with the expression of chronic CNP following SCI.

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