Contributions of injured and intact afferents to neuropathic pain in an experimental rat model

Pain. 1996 Jan;64(1):27-36. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(95)00096-8.


This study was conducted to determine the contribution of peripheral inputs from injured and intact afferent fibers to behavioral signs of neuropathic pain, using a previously developed neuropathic rat model. Neuropathic injury was produced by tightly ligating the left L5 and L6 spinal nerves; this procedure induced rats to display neuropathic pain behaviors in the ipsilateral hindlimb. The behaviors included signs of mechanical and cold allodynia, as well as ongoing pain. Five days after neuropathic injury, peripheral inputs from injured segments (L5 and L6) or intact segments (L3 and L4) were blocked by either transection of the dorsal roots or application of a local anesthetic (bupivacaine) to the roots. Dorsal rhizotomy of the injured segments reduced all components of neuropathic pain behaviors. In contrast, dorsal rhizotomy of the uninjured segments abolished behavioral signs of mechanical and cold allodynia, but signs of ongoing pain were preserved. Blocking afferent inputs by application of bupivacaine mimicked the results of dorsal rhizotomy, in a reversible manner. These results suggest that afferent signals from injured and intact fibers play distinctively different roles in neuropathic pain: inputs from injured afferents maintain all components of neuropathic pain, while those from intact afferents mediate evoked pain such as mechanical and cold allodynia. An hypothesis is proposed to explain the results of the present as well as other published studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Bupivacaine / pharmacology
  • Cold Temperature
  • Lumbosacral Region
  • Male
  • Nerve Block
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Neural Conduction
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain / psychology
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rhizotomy
  • Sensation Disorders / etiology
  • Sensation Disorders / physiopathology
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / drug effects
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / physiopathology
  • Spinal Nerves / injuries*
  • Spinal Nerves / pathology
  • Spinal Nerves / physiopathology*


  • Bupivacaine