Background: The spared nerve injury (SNI) model of neuropathic pain produces robust and reproducible behavioral mechanical hypersensitivity. Although this rodent model of neuropathic pain has been well established and widely used, peripheral mechanisms underlying this phenotype remain incompletely understood. Here we investigated the role of cutaneous sensory fibers in the maintenance of mechanical hyperalgesia in mice post-SNI.
Findings: SNI produced robust, long-lasting behavioral mechanical hypersensitivity compared to sham and naïve controls beginning by post-operative day (POD) 1 and continuing through at least POD 180. We performed teased fiber recordings on single cutaneous fibers from the spared sural nerve using ex vivo skin-nerve preparations. Recordings were made between POD 16-42 after SNI or sham surgery. Aδ-mechanoreceptors (AM) and C fibers, many of which are nociceptors, from SNI mice fired significantly more action potentials in response to suprathreshold mechanical stimulation than did fibers from either sham or naïve control mice. However, there was no increase in spontaneous activity.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study evaluating the contribution of primary afferent fibers in the SNI model. These data suggest that enhanced suprathreshold firing in AM and C fibers may play a role in the marked, persistent mechanical hypersensitivity observed in this model. These results may provide insight into mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain in humans.