Upregulation of α1-adrenoceptors on cutaneous nerve fibres after partial sciatic nerve ligation and in complex regional pain syndrome type II

Peter D. Drummond*, Eleanor S. Drummond, Linda F. Dawson, Vanessa Mitchell, Philip M. Finch, Christopher W. Vaughan, Jacqueline K. Phillips

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

After peripheral nerve injury, nociceptive afferents acquire an abnormal excitability to adrenergic agents, possibly due to an enhanced expression of α1-adrenoceptors (α1-ARs) on these nerve fibres. To investigate this in the present study, changes in α1-AR expression on nerve fibres in the skin and sciatic nerve trunk were assessed using immunohistochemistry in an animal model of neuropathic pain involving partial ligation of the sciatic nerve. In addition, α1-AR expression on nerve fibres was examined in painful and unaffected skin of patients who developed complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) after a peripheral nerve injury (CRPS type II). Four days after partial ligation of the sciatic nerve, α1-AR expression was greater on dermal nerve fibres that survived the injury than on dermal nerve fibres after sham surgery. This heightened α1-AR expression was observed on nonpeptidergic nociceptive afferents in the injured sciatic nerve, dermal nerve bundles, and the papillary dermis. Heightened expression of α1- AR in dermal nerve bundles after peripheral nerve injury also colocalized with neurofilament 200, a marker of myelinated nerve fibres. In each patient examined, α1-AR expression was greater on nerve fibres in skin affected by CRPS than in unaffected skin from the same patient or from pain-free controls. Together, these findings provide compelling evidence for an upregulation of α1-ARs on cutaneous nociceptive afferents after peripheral nerve injury. Activation of these receptors by circulating or locally secreted catecholamines might contribute to chronic pain in CRPS type II.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-616
Number of pages11
JournalPain
Volume155
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

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