Background: We have previously reported that inhibition of astrocytic activation contributes to the analgesic effects of intrathecal ketamine on spinal nerve ligation (SNL)-induced neuropathic pain. However, the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), a member of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family, has been reported to be critical for spinal astrocytic activation and neuropathic pain development after SNL. Ketamine can decrease lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced phosphorylated JNK (pJNK) expression and could thus exert its anti-inflammatory effect. We hypothesized that inhibition of astrocytic JNK activation might be involved in the suppressive effect of ketamine on SNL-induced spinal astrocytic activation.Methods: Immunofluorescence histochemical staining was used to detect SNL-induced spinal pJNK expression and localization. The effects of ketamine on SNL-induced mechanical allodynia were confirmed by behavioral testing. Immunofluorescence histochemistry and Western blot were used to quantify the SNL-induced spinal pJNK expression after ketamine administration.Results: The present study showed that SNL induced ipsilateral pJNK up-regulation in astrocytes but not microglia or neurons within the spinal dorsal horn. Intrathecal ketamine relieved SNL-induced mechanical allodynia without interfering with motor performance. Additionally, intrathecal administration of ketamine attenuated SNL-induced spinal astrocytic JNK activation in a dose-dependent manner, but not JNK protein expression.Conclusions: The present results suggest that inhibition of JNK activation may be involved in the suppressive effects of ketamine on SNL-induced spinal astrocyte activation. Therefore, inhibition of spinal JNK activation may be involved in the analgesic effects of ketamine on SNL-induced neuropathic pain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience