Intraplantar injection of dilute formalin evokes brief (Phase 1) and persistent (Phase 2) increases in primary afferent activity, pain behavior, and cardiovascular responses, and induces spinal cord Fos-like immunoreactivity (Fos-LI). Although previous studies demonstrated that the destruction of small diameter primary afferents with neonatal capsaicin treatment decrease formalin-evoked nociception, these studies only evaluated behavioral responses, and did not distinguish between Phase 1 and 2. To address these questions, we simultaneously evaluated formalin-evoked pain behavior (flinching of the afflicted paw), cardiovascular responses (heart rate and mean arterial pressure), and lumbar spinal cord Fos expression in control rats and in rats treated with capsaicin (100 mg/kg) one day postpartum. We found that neonatal capsaicin-treated rats, compared to controls, exhibited similar cardiovascular responses and slightly less flinching behavior during Phase 1. During Phase 2, however, capsaicin-treated rats exhibited 59% less flinching and 45% smaller heart rate responses. Also, in capsaicin-treated rats, we counted 59% fewer Fos-labeled neurons in the spinal cord. These results indicate that capsaicin-sensitive afferents contribute to formalin-evoked behavioral and cardiovascular responses and to spinal cord neuronal responses. The differential effect of neonatal capsaicin on nociception during Phase 1 and Phase 2 suggests that sensitization mechanisms during Phase 1 do not contribute to the magnitude of nociceptive responses during Phase 2.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors wish to thank Kathy Cronin for her technical assistance. This research was supported by grants NS 21445 and DA 083777.
- blood pressure
- heart rate
- neonatal capsaicin