The inhibition of spinal synaptic plasticity mediated by activation of AMP-activated protein kinase signaling alleviates the acute pain induced by oxaliplatin

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Our recent findings demonstrated that oxaliplatin entering CNS may directly induce spinal central sensitization, and contribute to the rapid development of CNS-related side effects including acute pain during chemotherapy. However, the mechanism is largely unclear. In the current study, we found that the amplitude of C-fiber-evoked field potentials was significantly increased and the expression of phosphorylated mammalian AMP-activated protein kinase α (AMPKα) was markedly decreased following high frequency stimulation (HFS) or single intraperitoneal injection of oxaliplatin (4 mg/kg). Spinal local application of AMPK agonist metformin (25 μg) prevented the long term potentiation (LTP) induction and the activation of mTOR/p70S6K signal pathway, and significantly attenuated the acute thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia following single oxaliplatin treatment. Importantly, we found that incubation of low concentration oxaliplatin at dose of 6.6 nM (the detected concentration in CSF following a single intraperitoneal injection of oxaliplatin) also significantly inhibited the AMPKα activation and increased the amplitude of sEPSCs, the number of action potential, and the expression of p-mTOR and p-p70S6K in spinal cord slices. Metformin (25 μg) or rapamycin (2 μg) inhibited the increased excitability of dorsal horn neurons and the decrease of p-AMPKα expression induced by low concentration oxaliplatin incubation. Furthermore, spinal application of AMPK inhibitor compound C (5 μg) induced the spinal LTP, thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia, and rapamycin attenuated the spinal LTP, the thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia following oxaliplatin treatment (i.p.). Local application of metformin significantly decreased the mTOR and p70S6K activation induced by tetanus stimulation or oxaliplatin (i.p.). These results suggested that the decreased AMPKα activity via negatively regulating mTOR/p70S6K signal pathway enhanced the synaptic plasticity and contributed to acute pain induced by low concentration of oxaliplatin entering CNS.

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