It is known that peripheral nerve injury induces time-dependent changes in dorsal horn function. The current study investigated the time dependency of the effects of intrathecal morphine and MK-801, an N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist, on the thermal hyperesthesia evoked by unilateral constriction injury to the sciatic nerve in the rat.Methods
In rats with a unilateral constriction injury to the sciatic nerve, paw withdrawal latency against thermal stimulation for the injured paw was typically 3 s less than that for the uninjured paw during the first 5 weeks after the injury. Drugs were administered intrathecally 1 or 5 weeks after the nerve injury.Results
Intrathecal morphine increased the paw withdrawal latencies of both the injured paw and the uninjured paw in an equally dose dependent manner in the 1-week study. In the 5-week study, morphine increased the paw withdrawal latency of the uninjured paw in a dose-dependent manner, but not that of the injured paw. Intrathecal MK-801 increased the paw withdrawal latency of the injured paw to the level of the uninjured paw in a dose-dependent manner in both the 1− and 5-week studies.Conclusions
These data indicate that (1) an N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-mediated spinal facilitation may be the common mechanism maintaining the thermal hyperesthesia evoked by the constriction injury, and (2) the effects of intrathecal morphine on this thermal hyperesthesia are time-dependent.