Chronic blockade of interleukin-1 (IL-1) prevents and attenuates neuropathic pain behavior and spontaneous ectopic neuronal activity following nerve injury

Eur J Pain. 2011 Mar;15(3):242-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2010.07.012. Epub 2010 Aug 30.


Neuropathic pain is a chronic pain state resulting from peripheral nerve injury, characterized by hyperalgesia and allodynia. We have reported that mice with genetic impairment of IL-1 signaling display attenuated neuropathic pain behavior and ectopic neuronal activity. In order to substantiate the role of IL-1 in neuropathic pain, WT mice were implanted subcutaneously with osmotic micropumps containing either IL-1ra or vehicle. Two days following the implantation, two models of neuropathic pain were used; partial nerve injury (spinal nerve transection, SNT), or complete nerve cut (spinal neuroma model). Mechanosensitivity was assessed seven consecutive days following SNT, and on day 7 recordings of spontaneous ectopic activity were performed. In the spinal nerve neuroma model, autotomy scores were recorded up to 35 days. Vehicle-treated mice developed significant allodynia and autotomy, and clear ectopic activity (4.1±1.1% of the axons); whereas IL-1ra-treated mice did not display allodynic response, displayed delayed onset of autotomy and markedly reduced severity of autotomy scores, and displayed reduced spontaneous activity (0.8±0.4% of the axons). To test whether IL-1 is involved in maintenance of mechanical allodynia, a separate group of WT mice was treated with a single injection of either saline or IL-1ra four days following SNT, after the allodynic response was already manifested. Whereas saline-treated mice displayed robust allodynia, acute IL-1ra treatment induced long-lasting attenuation of the allodynic response. The results support our hypothesis that IL-1 signaling plays an important role in neuropathic pain and in the ectopic neuronal activity that underling its development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / pharmacology
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / therapeutic use*
  • Interleukin-1 / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neuralgia / drug therapy*
  • Neuralgia / genetics
  • Neuralgia / physiopathology
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Pain Measurement / drug effects
  • Pain Threshold / drug effects*
  • Pain Threshold / physiology
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1 / genetics
  • Spinal Nerves / injuries*
  • Spinal Nerves / physiopathology


  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Interleukin-1
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1