Background: B vitamins have been demonstrated to be effective in treating chronic pain due to peripheral nerve injury. We investigated whether B vitamins could alleviate neuropathic pain and reduce neuron injury following temporary ischaemia in a rat model of spinal cord ischaemia-reperfusion injury (SCII).
Methods: SCII was produced by transiently blocking the unilateral lumbar arteries in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. Behavioural and neurochemical signs of neuropathic pain and spinal neuron injury were analysed with and without B vitamin treatment.
Results: SCII caused behavioural thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia and neurochemical alterations, including increased expression of the vanilloid receptor 1 (VR1) and induction of c-Fos, as well as activation of the astrocytes and microglial cells in the spinal cord. Repetitive systemic administration of vitamin B complex (B1/B6/B12 at 33/33/0.5 mg/kg, i.p., daily, for 7-14 consecutive days) significantly reduced thermal hyperalgesia and the increased expression of VR1 and c-Fos, as well as activation of the astrocytes and microglial cells. SCII caused a dramatic decrease of the expression of the rate-limiting enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase-65 (GAD65), which synthesizes γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the axonal terminals, and β-III-tubulin, and also caused loss of Nissl bodies in the spinal cord. These alterations were largely prevented and rescued by the B vitamin treatment.
Conclusions: These findings support the idea that the B vitamins are capable of neuroprotection and antinociception during spinal cord injury due to temporary ischaemia. Rescuing the loss of inhibitory GABAergic tone may reduce spinal central sensitization and contribute to B vitamin-induced analgesia.
© 2013 European Pain Federation - EFIC®