TLR4 deficiency abrogated widespread tactile allodynia, but not widespread thermal hyperalgesia and trigeminal neuropathic pain after partial infraorbital nerve transection

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Pain sensitization after partial infraorbital nerve transection (p-IONX) in mice not only presents in orofacial region, but also spreads to distant body parts. The roles of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in orofacial pain and the spreading process are still unclear. Here, we found that mice with deficient TLR4 because of Tr4 gene point mutation (C3H/HeJ) or spontaneous deletion (C57BL/10ScNJ) developed tactile allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia in the vibrissal pad in a parallel way to their respective wild types (C3HeB/FeJ or C57BL/6J) after p-IONX. However, allodynia in the hind paw was absent in mice with TLR4 deficiency. Pharmacological antagonism of TLR4 with LPS-RS, administered either intracisternally or intrathecally, abrogated allodynia in the hind paw without affecting the hypersensitivity in the vibrissal pad and hyperalgesia in the hind paw. Although TNF-α expression was upregulated in both the medulla and lumbar cord, the expression of TLR4 downstream molecule MyD88 increased only in the lumbar cord after p-IONX in wild types. By contrast, hind paw hypersensitivity after partial sciatic nerve ligation was significantly attenuated by TLR4 deletion. The hypersensitivity, which did not spread to the vibrissal pad, was accompanied with upregulation of MyD88 in the lumbar cord rather than in the medulla. These results suggest that TLR4 participates in the spread of allodynia component of orofacial pain to distant body sites, but not trigeminal neuropathic pain or the spread of its hyperalgesia component. This study suggests that TLR4 may serve as a potential target for the management of widespread allodynia associated with orofacial pain.

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