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Volume 31 , Issue 4
Fall 2017

Pages 381Ė397


Effects of Sex and Stress on Trigeminal Neuropathic Pain-Like Behavior in Rats

Olga Anna Korczeniewska, PhD/Junad Khan, BDS, MPH, PhD/Yuanxiang Tao, MD, PhD/Eli Eliav, DMD, PhD/Rafael Benoliel, BDS


DOI: 10.11607/ofph.1807

Aims: To investigate the effects and interactions of sex and stress (provoked by chronic restraint [RS]) on pain-like behavior in a rat model of trigeminal neuropathic pain. Methods: The effects of sex and RS (carried out for 14 days as a model for stress) on somatosensory measures (reaction to pinprick, von Frey threshold) in a rat model of trigeminal neuropathic pain were examined. The study design was 2 × 4, with surgery (pain) and sham surgery (no pain) interacting with male restrained (RS) and unrestrained (nRS) rats and female RS and nRS rats. A total of 64 Sprague Dawley rats (32 males and 32 females) were used. Half of the animals in each sex group underwent RS, and the remaining half were left unstressed. Following the RS period, trigeminal neuropathic pain was induced by unilateral infraorbital nerve chronic constriction injury (IOCCI). Half of the animals in the RS group and half in the nRS group (both males and females) were exposed to IOCCI, and the remaining halves to sham surgery. Elevated plus maze (EPM) assessment and plasma interferon gamma (IFN-γ) levels were used to measure the effects of RS. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to assess the effects of stress, sex, and their interactions on plasma IFN-γ levels, changes in body weight, EPM parameters, tactile allodynia, and mechanohyperalgesia. Pairwise comparisons were performed by using Tukey post hoc test corrected for multiple comparisons. Results: Both male and female RS rats showed significantly altered exploratory behavior (as measured by EPM) and had significantly lower plasma IFN-γ levels than nRS rats. Rats exposed to RS gained weight significantly slower than the nRS rats, irrespective of sex. Following RS but before surgery, RS rats showed significant bilateral reductions in von Frey thresholds and significantly increased pinprick response difference scores compared to nRS rats, irrespective of sex. From 17 days postsurgery, RSIOCCI rats showed significantly reduced von Frey thresholds and significantly increased pinprick response difference scores compared to nRS-IOCCI rats, and the von Frey thresholds were significantly lower in females than in males. RS-sham femalesóbut not RS-sham malesódeveloped persistently reduced thresholds and increased pinprick response difference scores. Conclusion: RS produced an increased bilateral sensitivity to stimuli applied to the vibrissal pad following infraorbital nerve injury, irrespective of sex. This observed sensitivity subsequently persisted in RS-sham female rats but not in RS-sham male rats. Stress induced a significant but moderate increase in pain-like behavior in female rats compared to male rats. RS had no significant sex effects on IFN-γ levels, EPM parameters, or body weight gain. This suggests that stress may have a selective effect on pain-like behavior in both sexes, but the possible mechanisms are unclear.


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