Under normal conditions, the sympathetic neurotransmitter noradrenaline inhibits the production and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. However, after peripheral nerve and tissue injury, pro-inflammatory cytokines appear to induce the expression of the alpha1A-adrenoceptor subtype on immune cells and perhaps also on other cells in the injured tissue. In turn, noradrenaline may act on up-regulated alpha1-adrenoceptors to increase the production of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6. In addition, the release of inflammatory mediators and nerve growth factor from keratinocytes and other cells may augment the expression of alpha1-adrenoceptors on peripheral nerve fibers. Consequently, nociceptive afferents acquire an abnormal excitability to adrenergic agents, and inflammatory processes build. These mechanisms could contribute to the development of sympathetically maintained pain in conditions such as post-herpetic neuralgia, cutaneous neuromas, amputation stump pain and complex regional pain syndrome.Funding:
This work was supported by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.Funding:
Drummond PD. Neuronal changes resulting in up-regulation of alpha-1 adrenoceptors after peripheral nerve injury. Neural Regen Res. 2014;9(14):1337-1340.