Increased Hyperalgesia and Proinflammatory Cytokines in the Spinal Cord and Dorsal Root Ganglion After Surgery and/or Fentanyl Administration in Rats

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Perioperative fentanyl has been reported to induce hyperalgesia and increase postoperative pain. In this study, we tried to investigate behavioral hyperalgesia, the expression of proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and the activation of microglia in the spinal cord and dorsal root ganglion (DRG) in a rat model of surgical plantar incision with or without perioperative fentanyl.

METHODS:

Four groups of rats (n = 32 for each group) were subcutaneously injected with fentanyl at 60 μg/kg or normal saline for 4 times with 15-minute intervals. Plantar incisions were made to rats in 2 groups after the second drug injection. Mechanical and thermal nociceptive thresholds were assessed by the tail pressure test and paw withdrawal test on the day before, at 1, 2, 3, 4 hours, and on the days 1–7 after drug injection. The lumbar spinal cord, bilateral DRG, and cerebrospinal fluid of 4 rats in each group were collected to measure IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α on the day before, at the fourth hour, and on the days 1, 3, 5, and 7 after drug injection. The lumbar spinal cord and bilateral DRG were removed to detect the ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1 on the day before and on the days 1 and 7 after drug injection.

RESULTS:

Rats injected with normal saline only demonstrated no significant mechanical or thermal hyperalgesia or any increases of IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α in the spinal cord or DRG. However, injection of fentanyl induced analgesia within as early as 4 hours and a significant delayed tail mechanical and bilateral plantar thermal hyperalgesia after injections lasting for 2 days, while surgical plantar incision induced a significant mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia lasting for 1–4 days. The combination of fentanyl and incision further aggravated the hyperalgesia and prolonged the duration of hyperalgesia. The fentanyl or surgical incision upregulated the expression of IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α in the spinal cord and bilateral DRG for more than 7 days and increase of ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule 1 in the spinal cord. The combination of fentanyl and incision resulted in higher increase of IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α in the spinal cord and bilateral DRG.

CONCLUSIONS:

The surgical plantar incision with or without perioperative fentanyl induced significant mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia, an increased expression of IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α in the spinal cord and DRG, and activation of microglia in the spinal cord.

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