Cancer pain and neuropathic pain are associated with Aβ sensory neuronal plasticity in dorsal root ganglia and abnormal sprouting in lumbar spinal cord
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Evidence suggests that there are both nociceptive and neuropathic components of cancer-induced pain. We have observed that changes in intrinsic membrane properties and excitability of normally non-nociceptive Aβ sensory neurons are consistent in rat models of peripheral neuropathic pain and cancer-induced pain. This has prompted a comparative investigation of the intracellular electrophysiological characteristics of sensory neurons and of the ultrastructural morphology of the dorsal horn in rat models of neuropathic pain and cancer-induced pain. Neuropathic pain model rats were induced with a polyethylene cuff implanted around a sciatic nerve. Cancer-induced pain model rats were induced with mammary rat metastasis tumour-1 rat breast cancer or MATLyLu rat prostate cancer cells implanted into the distal epiphysis of a femur. Behavioural evidence of nociception was detected using von Frey tactile assessment. Aβ-fibre low threshold mechanoreceptor neurons in both cancer-induced pain and neuropathic pain models exhibited slower dynamics of action potential genesis, including a wider action potential duration and lower action potential amplitude compared to those in control animals. Enhanced excitability of Aβ-fibre low threshold mechanoreceptor neurons was also observed in cancer-induced pain and neuropathic pain models. Furthermore, both cancer-induced pain and neuropathic pain models showed abundant abnormal axonal sprouting in bundles of myelinated axons in the ipsilateral spinal laminae IV and V. The patterns of changes show consistency between rat models of cancer-induced pain and neuropathic pain. These findings add to the body of evidence that animal models of cancer-induced pain and neuropathic pain share features that may contribute to the peripheral and central sensitization and tactile hypersensitivity in both pain states.
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