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A local anesthetic, ropivacaine, suppresses activated microglia via a nerve growth factor-dependent mechanism and astrocytes via a nerve growth factor-independent mechanism in neuropathic pain

Author(s): Toda Shigeru | Sakai Atsushi | Ikeda Yumiko | Sakamoto Atsuhiro | Suzuki Hidenori

Journal: Molecular Pain
ISSN 1744-8069

Volume: 7;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 2;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background Local anesthetics alleviate neuropathic pain in some cases in clinical practice, and exhibit longer durations of action than those predicted on the basis of the pharmacokinetics of their blocking effects on voltage-dependent sodium channels. Therefore, local anesthetics may contribute to additional mechanisms for reversal of the sensitization of nociceptive pathways that occurs in the neuropathic pain state. In recent years, spinal glial cells, microglia and astrocytes, have been shown to play critical roles in neuropathic pain, but their participation in the analgesic effects of local anesthetics remains largely unknown. Results Repetitive epidural administration of ropivacaine reduced the hyperalgesia induced by chronic constrictive injury of the sciatic nerve. Concomitantly with this analgesia, ropivacaine suppressed the increases in the immunoreactivities of CD11b and glial fibrillary acidic protein in the dorsal spinal cord, as markers of activated microglia and astrocytes, respectively. In addition, epidural administration of a TrkA-IgG fusion protein that blocks the action of nerve growth factor (NGF), which was upregulated by ropivacaine in the dorsal root ganglion, prevented the inhibitory effect of ropivacaine on microglia, but not astrocytes. The blockade of NGF action also abolished the analgesic effect of ropivacaine on neuropathic pain. Conclusions Ropivacaine provides prolonged analgesia possibly by suppressing microglial activation in an NGF-dependent manner and astrocyte activation in an NGF-independent manner in the dorsal spinal cord. Local anesthetics, including ropivacaine, may represent a new approach for glial cell inhibition and, therefore, therapeutic strategies for neuropathic pain.
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