Pain exacerbates chronic mild stress-induced changes in noradrenergic transmission in rats
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Author/sBravo García, Lidia; Torres-Sanchez, Sonia; Micó Segura, Juan Antonio; Berrocoso Domínguez, Esther María; Alba-Delgado, Cristina
Depression can influence pain and vice versa, yet the biological mechanisms underlying how one influences the pathophysiology of the other remains unclear. Dysregulation of locus coeruleus-noradrenergic transmission is implicated in both conditions, although it is not known whether this effect is exacerbated in cases of co-morbid depression and chronic pain. We studied locus coeruleus activity using immunofluorescence and electrophysiological approaches in rats subjected to unpredictable chronic mild stress (CMS, an experimental model of depression) and/or chronic constriction injury (CCI, a model of chronic neuropathic pain) for 2 weeks. CCI alone had no effect on any of the locus coeruleus parameters studied, while CMS led to a slight reduction in the electrophysiological activity of the locus coeruleus. Furthermore, CMS was associated with an increase in the number of tyrosine hydroxylase-positive cells in the locus coeruleus, although they were smaller in size. Interestingly, these effects of CMS were exacerbated when combined with CCI, even though no changes in the α2-adrenoreceptors or the noradrenaline transporter were observed in any group. Together, these findings suggest that CMS triggers several modifications in locus coeruleus-noradrenergic transmission that are exacerbated by co-morbid chronic pain.