Commensal microbiota is fundamental for the development of inflammatory pain

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Feb 12;105(6):2193-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0711891105. Epub 2008 Feb 11.


The ability of an individual to sense pain is fundamental for its capacity to adapt to its environment and to avoid damage. The sensation of pain can be enhanced by acute or chronic inflammation. In the present study, we have investigated whether inflammatory pain, as measured by hypernociceptive responses, was modified in the absence of the microbiota. To this end, we evaluated mechanical nociceptive responses induced by a range of inflammatory stimuli in germ-free and conventional mice. Our experiments show that inflammatory hypernociception induced by carrageenan, lipopolysaccharide, TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, and the chemokine CXCL1 was reduced in germ-free mice. In contrast, hypernociception induced by prostaglandins and dopamine was similar in germ-free or conventional mice. Reduction of hypernociception induced by carrageenan was associated with reduced tissue inflammation and could be reversed by reposition of the microbiota or systemic administration of lipopolysaccharide. Significantly, decreased hypernociception in germ-free mice was accompanied by enhanced IL-10 expression upon stimulation and could be reversed by treatment with an anti-IL-10 antibody. Therefore, these results show that contact with commensal microbiota is necessary for mice to develop inflammatory hypernociception. These findings implicate an important role of the interaction between the commensal microbiota and the host in favoring adaptation to environmental stresses, including those that cause pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrageenan / administration & dosage
  • Germ-Free Life
  • Hyperalgesia / metabolism
  • Hyperalgesia / microbiology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / microbiology*
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Mice


  • Interleukin-10
  • Carrageenan