Spinal cord injury (SCI) often leads to central pain syndrome including hyperalgesia to mechanical stimulation. Since there is evidence that nerve growth factor (NGF) contributes to pain-related behaviors, we wished to determine if anti-NGF might inhibit abnormal somatosensory behaviors that develop following SCI in rats. SCI was performed in male Sprague-Dawley rats by T13 spinal hemisection. After spinal hemisection, animals were untreated or treated daily with anti-NGF or saline intraperitoneally for 10 days. In groups of both hemisection only and hemisection with saline treatment, mechanical hyperalgesia developed in both hindlimbs, as evidenced by a decrease in paw withdrawal thresholds. Mechanical responsiveness of wide dynamic range (WDR) neurons on both sides of spinal cord also increased. The anti-NGF treated group demonstrated significant suppression of both mechanical hyperalgesia and increased WDR neuronal responsiveness. These results indicate that anti-NGF prevents the development of abnormal somatosensory behavior and suggest a potential pre-emptive analgesic treatment for central pain.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.