, Volume 33, Issue 7, pp 953-963
Date: 12 Jul 2013

Differential Regulation of Glucocorticoid Receptor Expression in Distinct Columns of Periaqueductal Grey in Rats with Behavioural Disability Following Nerve Injury

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Neuropathic pain is diagnosed primarily by sensory dysfunction, which includes both spontaneous, and stimulus-evoked pain. Clinical evaluation highlights the disabilities which characterise this condition for most patients. Chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve (CCI) evokes sensory dysfunction characteristic of neuropathic pain. Approximately, 30 % of CCI rats show disabilities similar to those identified in clinical evaluation of neuropathic pain patients, these include: altered social behaviours; sleep disturbances; and endocrine dysfunction. The periaqueductal grey (PAG) is a nodal point in the brain circuits which regulate these functions, and undergoes a distinct set of neural and glial adaptations following CCI, in rats with disabilities. CCI increases corticosterone, which through its actions at the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), can trigger cellular adaptation. GR expression in PAG was quantified using qRT-PCR, Western blotting and immunohistochemical analyses and nerve-injured rats, with and without disabilities, were compared. Our data showed that the PAG of disabled rats has significantly increased expression of GR

mRNA and protein. Further, this increased protein expression reflects contrasting patterns of change in GR expression in PAG subregions. The dorsolateral PAG had significant increases in the number of GR-immunoreactive (GR-IR) cells and the caudal lateral and ventrolateral PAG each had significant reductions in the number of GR-IR cells. These regional increases and decreases correlated with the degree of disability, as indicated by the degree of change in social behaviours. Our results suggest a role for altered PAG, GR–corticosterone interactions and their resultant cellular consequences in the expression of disabilities in a subpopulation of nerve-injured rats.