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Pain. 2009 Oct;145(3):341-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2009.06.037. Epub 2009 Aug 5.

Role of substance P signaling in enhanced nociceptive sensitization and local cytokine production after incision.

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Department of Anesthesia, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.


Substance P (SP) signaling facilitates nociceptive sensitization in various inflammatory and chronic pain models and we postulated that SP signaling might also contribute to the development of post-incisional hyperalgesia. These studies used mice with a deletion of the pre-protachykinin A gene (ppt-A(-/-)) which codes for SP to determine the role of SP signaling in post-incisional pain and in the increased cytokine and nerve growth factor (NGF) expression observed in the incised skin. SP deficient ppt-A(-/-) mice displayed reduced mechanical allodynia and heat hyperalgesia compared to the wild-type (wt) mice at all post-incision time points, despite similar baseline values (p<0.001). Furthermore, the NK-1 receptor antagonist LY303870 attenuated mechanical allodynia produced by incision in the wt mice (p<0.001). Incision also up-regulated IL-6, TNF-alpha and KC levels but not IL-1beta after 2h in the wt mice skin. However, ppt-A(-/-) mice had more skin NGF levels 2h post-incision. Subcutaneous hind paw SP injection produced acute and transient elevations of IL-1beta, IL-6, and KC but modest elevations in TNF-alpha levels in the wt mice. Systemic LY303870 reversed the SP-induced elevations of these cytokines. Hind paw injection of IL-6 and NGF dose dependently produced less mechanical allodynia in the ppt-A(-/-) compared to wt mice. Additionally, SP produced mechanical allodynia in a dose-dependent fashion in wt mice. Therefore, SP supports nociceptive sensitization after hind paw incision and potentially participates directly in modulating the intensity of inflammatory response in peri-incisional tissue.

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