Higher pain perception and lack of recovery from neuropathic pain in females: A behavioural, immunohistochemical, and proteomic investigation on sex-related differences in mice

Valentina Vacca, Sara Marinelli, Luisa Pieroni, Andrea Urbani, Siro Luvisetto, Flaminia Pavone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In experimental and clinical pain studies, the sex of subjects was rarely taken into account, even if nociceptive inputs appear to be processed and modulated by partially distinct neural mechanisms in each sex. In this study we analysed, in male and female mice, behavioural and neuronal responses in developing, maintaining, and recovering from neuropathic pain. Experiments were carried out in adult CD1 mice by using Chronic Constriction Injury (CCI) as neuropathic pain model. We investigated the temporal trend of mechanical nociceptive threshold together with functional recovery of the injured paw, and the immunofluorescence staining of proteins associated with nerve injury and repair and with spinal gliosis, 7 and 121 days after CCI. A proteomic analysis on proteins extracted from sciatic nerves was also performed. Male mice showed a gradual decrease of CCI-induced allodynia, the complete recovery occurring 81 days after the sciatic nerve ligation. On the contrary, in female mice, allodynia was still present 121 days after CCI. Sex-dependent differences also resulted from immunofluorescence experiments: in sciatic nerve, the expression of P0 and Neu200 is greater in neuropathic males than in neuropathic females, suggesting faster nerve regeneration. Proteomic analysis confirmed sex-related differences of proteins associated with nerve regenerative processes. In addition, the reactive gliosis induced by CCI at day 7, as revealed by colocalization of glial fibrillary acidic protein (astrocytes) and CD11b (microglia) with phosphorylated p38, disappeared 121 days after CCI in male but not in female mice. These results may have important therapeutic implications for the treatment of neuropathic pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-402
Number of pages15
JournalPain
Volume155
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014

Keywords

  • Allodynia
  • Glial cells
  • Mice
  • Myelin
  • Schwann cells
  • Sciatic nerve
  • Sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Pharmacology

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