Effect of ZBD-2 on chronic pain, depressive-like behaviors, and recovery of motor function following spinal cord injury in mice
In addition to debilitating sensory and motor deficits, patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) may experience chronic hyperpathic pain (SCI-pain). Recent studies have revealed that translocator protein (TSPO) is involved in repairing neural cells as well as reducing anxiety and depression. However, the role of TSPO in SCI-pain and pain-induced depression remains unknown. The present study aimed to determine the effects of a new TSPO ligand, ZBD-2, on SCI-pain and consequent pain-induced depressive-like behaviors in mice. Treatment with ZBD-2 at either dose significantly attenuated the symptoms of chronic SCI-pain and pain-induced depressive-like behaviors. ZBD-2 reversed SCI-induced elevation of serum corticosterone levels, an index of hyper-activation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. Additionally, administration of ZBD-2 inhibited decreases in the expression of synaptic plasticity-related signaling proteins, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and cyclic AMP-responsive element binding protein (CREB). Moreover, ZBD-2 administration reversed chronic, SCI-induced gliocyte activation at the lesion site. Therefore, ZBD-2 may improve chronic SCI-pain and pain-induced depressive-like behaviors via suppression of gliocyte activation and restoration of the synaptic plasticity-related signaling systems.