Morphine insensitive allodynia is produced by intrathecal strychnine in the lightly anesthetized rat

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The acute blockade of spinal glycinergic inhibition with intrathecal strychnine (i.t. STR; a glycine antagonist) in rats induces a change in somatosensory processing which is very similar to the sensory dysesthesia of clinical neural injury pain. In the present study, the effects of i.t. STR were examined in urethane-anesthetized rats. Noxious paw pinch (PP) or tail immersion (TI) in 55°C water evoked a pronounced pressor response, increased heart rate (HR) and desynchronized the electroencephalogram; a non-noxious, hair deflection (HD) elicited only minor cardiovascular responses. After i.t. STR (40 μg), an identical HD stimulus evoked markedly enhanced cardiovascular responses, resembling those evoked by noxious stimuli, and a HD-evoked motor withdrawal was observed. Consistent STR-dependent responses were only observed if a light plane of anesthesia was maintained for the duration of the experiment. The effects of i.t. STR were dose-dependent and reversible, lasting 15–30 min. Spinal morphine (50 μg) completely abolished the cardiovascular responses to PP and TI, but the HD-evoked, STR-dependent cardiovascular and motor withdrawal responses remained unchanged. In contrast, the non-selective excitatory amino acid antagonist, γ-D-glutamylglycine (DGG; 50 μg) was effective in suppressing both the STR-dependent cardiovascular and motor withdrawal responses. These data suggest that STR-dependent responses evoked by non-noxious stimuli are mediated by mechanisms distinct from those of conventional noxious stimuli and that i.t. STR may be useful for investigating the spinal pharmacology of somatosensory processing following the loss of spinal glycinergic inhibition.

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