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Comparative Study
, 133 (4), 999-1006

Hippocampal neurokinin-1 Receptor and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Gene Expression Is Decreased in Rat Models of Pain and Stress

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Comparative Study

Hippocampal neurokinin-1 Receptor and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Gene Expression Is Decreased in Rat Models of Pain and Stress

V Duric et al. Neuroscience.

Abstract

Acute or chronic stress can alter hippocampal structure, cause neuronal damage, and decrease hippocampal levels of the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The tachykinin substance P and its neurokinin-1 (NK-1) receptor may play a critical role in neuronal systems that process nociceptive stimuli; their importance in stress-activated systems has recently been demonstrated by the antidepressant-like actions of NK-1 receptor antagonists. However, the functional similarities between neurokinin receptors in the hippocampus and those in sensory systems are poorly understood, as is the significance of hippocampal NK-1 receptor in the context of chronic pain. Therefore, we investigated the effects of immobilization stress or inflammatory stimuli on NK-1 receptor and BDNF gene expression in the rat hippocampus. Rats received an acute or chronic immobilization stress, or an acute (formalin) or chronic (complete Freund's adjuvant) inflammatory stimulus to the right hind paw. Subsequently hippocampal volume and specific gravity were measured and NK-1 receptor and BDNF mRNA levels quantified using ribonuclease protection assays. Results showed that either stress or pain down-regulates expression of both NK-1 receptor and BDNF genes in the hippocampus. Hippocampal volume was increased by either pain or stress; this may be due to edema (decreased specific gravity). Thus, BDNF and NK-1 receptor gene plasticity may reflect sensory activation or responses to neuronal injury. These data may provide useful markers of hippocampal activation during chronic pain, and suggest similarities in the mechanisms underlying chronic pain and depression.

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