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J Neurosci Res. 2008 Oct;86(13):2867-75. doi: 10.1002/jnr.21726.

Exogenous tumor necrosis factor-alpha rapidly alters synaptic and sensory transmission in the adult rat spinal cord dorsal horn.

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Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts, USA.


The proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is involved in the generation of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. This study investigated if TNF-alpha has any effect on spinal synaptic and/or sensory transmission by using whole-cell recordings of substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurons in transverse lumbar spinal cord slices of adult rats and by using behavioral tests. After intrathecal administration of TNF-alpha in adult rats, spontaneous hind paw withdrawal behavior and thermal hyperalgesia were rapidly induced (approximately 30 min), while mechanical allodynia slowly developed. Bath application of TNF-alpha (0.1-1 nM, 8 min) depressed peak amplitude of monosynaptic Adelta and C fiber-evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) without changing in holding currents and input resistances, whereas this application generally potentiated polysynaptic Adelta fiber-evoked EPSCs. Moreover, the frequencies, but not the amplitudes, of spontaneous and miniature EPSCs and spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents were significantly increased by bath-applied TNF-alpha in most of the SG neurons. The effects of TNF-alpha on Adelta/C fiber-evoked monosynaptic and polysynaptic or spontaneous EPSCs were significantly blocked by 5 microM TNF-alpha antagonist that inhibits TNF-alpha binding to its type 1 receptor (TNFR1). Because this study also found high protein expression of TNFR1 in the adult dorsal root ganglion and no change of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) induced whole-cell currents by TNF-alpha, we conclude that presynaptic TNFR1 at Adelta/C primary afferent terminals contributes to the rapid alteration of synaptic transmission in the spinal SG, and the development of abnormal pain hypersensitivity by exogenous TNF-alpha.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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