Reversal of Monoarthritis-induced Affective Disorders by Diclofenac in Rats

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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are effective for arthritic pain, but it is unknown whether they also benefit anxiety and depression that frequently coexist with pain. Using the monoarthritis model, the authors evaluated the activation of extracellular signal–regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) in structures implicated in both sensorial and emotional pain spheres, and it was verified whether analgesia can reverse monoarthritis-mediated affective responses.


Monoarthritis was induced in male rats by complete Freund’s adjuvant injection. Allodynia (ankle-bend test), mechanical hyperalgesia (paw-pinch test), anxiety- and depression-like behaviors (elevated zero maze and forced swimming tests, respectively), and ERK1/2 phosphorylation (Western blot) in the spinal cord, paragigantocellularis nucleus, locus coeruleus, and prefrontal cortex were evaluated at 4, 14, and 28 days postinoculation (n = 6 per group). Changes in these parameters were evaluated after induction of analgesia by topical diclofenac (n = 5 to 6 per group).


Despite the pain hypersensitivity and inflammation throughout the testing period, chronic monoarthritis (28 days) also resulted in depressive- (control [mean ± SEM]: 38.3 ± 3.7 vs. monoarthritis: 51.3 ± 2.0; P < 0.05) and anxiogenic-like behaviors (control: 36.8 ± 3.7 vs. monoarthritis: 13.2 ± 2.9; P < 0.001). These changes coincided with increased ERK1/2 activation in the spinal cord, paragigantocellularis, locus coeruleus, and prefrontal cortex (control vs. monoarthritis: 1.0 ± 0.0 vs. 5.1 ± 20.8, P < 0.001; 0.9 ± 0.0 vs. 1.9 ± 0.4, P < 0.05; 1.0 ± 0.3 vs. 2.9 ± 0.6, P < 0.01; and 1.0 ± 0.0 vs. 1.8 ± 0.1, P < 0.05, respectively). Diclofenac decreased the pain threshold of the inflamed paw and reversed the anxio-depressive state, restoring ERK1/2 activation levels in the regions analyzed.


Chronic monoarthritis induces affective disorders associated with ERK1/2 phosphorylation in paragigantocellularis, locus coeruleus, and prefrontal cortex which are reversed by diclofenac analgesia. (Anesthesiology 2014; 120:1476-90)

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