This study examined possible mechanisms by which Substance P (Sub P) assumes a pronociceptive role in the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) under conditions of peripheral inflammatory injury, in this case produced by intraplantar (ipl) injection of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA). In saline- and CFA-treated rats, neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1R) immunoreactivity was localized to neurons in the RVM. Four days after ipl injection of CFA, the number of NK1R-immunoreactive neurons in the RVM was increased by 30%, and there was a concomitant increase in NK1R-immunoreactive processes in CFA-treated rats. Although NK1R immunoreactivity was increased, tachykinin-1 receptor (Tacr1) mRNA was not increased in the RVM of CFA-treated rats. To assess changes in Sub P release, the number of RVM neurons that exhibited NK1R internalization was examined in saline- and CFA-treated rats following noxious heat stimulation of the hind paws. Only CFA-treated rats that experienced noxious heat stimulation exhibited a significant increase in the number of neurons showing NK1R internalization. These data suggest that tonic Sub P release is not increased as a simple consequence of peripheral inflammation, but that phasic or evoked release of Sub P in the RVM is increased in response to noxious peripheral stimulation in a persistent inflammatory state. These data support the proposal that an upregulation of the NK1R in the RVM, as well as enhanced release of Sub P following noxious stimulation, underlie the pronociceptive role of Sub P under conditions of persistent inflammatory injury.
Keywords: Substance P; Tacr1; complete Freund's adjuvant; hyperalgesia; nociception.
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.