The effect of exercise frequency on neuropathic pain and pain-related cellular reactions in the spinal cord and midbrain in a rat sciatic nerve injury model
Received 7 November 2017
Accepted for publication 27 December 2017
Published 7 February 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 281—291
Checked for plagiarism Yes
Review by Single-blind
Peer reviewer comments 3
Editor who approved publication: Dr E Alfonso Romero-Sandoval
Megumi Sumizono,1,2 Harutoshi Sakakima,1 Shotaro Otsuka,1 Takuto Terashi,1 Kazuki Nakanishi,1,2 Koki Ueda,1,2 Seiya Takada,1,2 Kiyoshi Kikuchi3
1Course of Physical Therapy, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan; 2Kirishima Orthopedics, Kirishima, Japan; 3Division of Brain Science, Department of Physiology, Kurume University School of Medicine, Kurume, Japan
Background: Exercise regimens are established methods that can relieve neuropathic pain. However, the relationship between frequency and intensity of exercise and multiple cellular responses of exercise-induced alleviation of neuropathic pain is still unclear. We examined the influence of exercise frequency on neuropathic pain and the intracellular responses in a sciatic nerve chronic constriction injury (CCI) model.
Materials and methods: Rats were assigned to four groups as follows: CCI and high-frequency exercise (HFE group), CCI and low-frequency exercise (LFE group), CCI and no exercise (No-Ex group), and naive animals (control group). Rats ran on a treadmill, at a speed of 20 m/min, for 30 min, for 5 (HFE) or 3 (LFE) days a week, for a total of 5 weeks. The 50% withdrawal threshold was evaluated for mechanical sensitivity. The activation of glial cells (microglia and astrocytes), expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and μ-opioid receptor in the spinal dorsal horn and endogenous opioid in the midbrain were examined using immunohistochemistry. Opioid receptor antagonists (naloxone) were administered using intraperitoneal injection.
Results: The development of neuropathic pain was related to the activation of glial cells, increased BDNF expression, and downregulation of the μ-opioid receptor in the ipsilateral spinal dorsal horn. In the No-Ex group, neuropathic pain showed the highest level of mechanical hypersensitivity at 2 weeks, which improved slightly until 5 weeks after CCI. In both exercise groups, the alleviation of neuropathic pain was accelerated through the regulation of glial activation, BDNF expression, and the endogenous opioid system. The expression of BDNF and endogenous opioid in relation to exercise-induced alleviation of neuropathic pain differed in the HFE and LFE groups. The effects of exercise-induced alleviation of mechanical hypersensitivity were reversed by the administration of naloxone.
Conclusion: The LFE and HFE program reduced neuropathic pain. Our findings indicated that aerobic exercise-induced alleviated neuropathic pain through the regulation of glial cell activation, expression of BDNF in the ipsilateral spinal dorsal horn, and the endogenous opioid system.
Keywords: exercise, neuropathic pain, rehabilitation, glial cells, endogenous opioid
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