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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A role for free radicals and nitric oxide in delayed recovery in aged rats with chronic constriction nerve injury.

Using a reversible chronic constriction injury (CCI) model of neuropathic pain, we previously demonstrated that changes in thermal hyperalgesia correlate with the changes in peripheral microvascular blood flow in the affected paw, and that recovery can be assessed by normalization of both behavioral and vascular responses. Using the same model, this study examined age-related changes in recovery after nerve injury and the involvement of free radicals and nitric oxide (NO) in these changes. Four loose, nonconstrictive ligatures were applied to the sciatic nerve in the right, mid-thigh region of young and old (3 and 24 months) Sprague Dawley rats. All rats were monitored weekly (for 8-10 weeks) for their thermal threshold using a 46 degrees C water bath and some groups were used to examine endothelial and smooth muscle-dependent microvascular responses to substance P (SP) and sodium nitroprusside (SNP), respectively. These substances were perfused over the base of blisters raised on the footpad innervated by the injured nerve. Free radical activity in the sciatic nerve was assessed by measuring the activity of xanthine oxidase (XO) and lipid hydroperoxides (LPO). Young rats showed signs of recovery (reduction in thermal hyperalgesia and improvement of peripheral microvascular blood flow) from the fifth week. No signs of recovery were observed in old rats for 8 weeks, with some reduction in thermal hyperalgesia observed by weeks 9 and 10. XO activity was significantly higher in young injured nerves compared to sham (400%) and was even significantly greater in old injured nerves (680%). Similarly, old injured nerves showed 300% increase in LPO levels compared to sham. The role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in delayed recovery in old rats was examined using the antioxidant tirilazad mesylate. Tirilazad (20 mg/kg) was injected intramuscularly (im) in the mid-thigh region starting on day 1 post CCI, (early treatment) or day 7 (late treatment). Levels of LPO in the injured sciatic nerves were significantly reduced using either early or late treatment, however tirilazad had opposing effects on recovery, prolonging or alleviating thermal hyperalgesia, respectively. The role of neuronal nitric oxide (nNO) was then examined using the specific neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) inhibitor, 3-bromo-7-nitroindazole (3Br-7NI) (10 mg/kg). 3Br-7NI resulted in a significant alleviation of thermal hyperalgesia with improvement in the vascular responses from weeks 5 and 6 onwards. A combination of 3Br-7NI and tirilazad treatment was also used but did not show an additive effect. The results suggest that ROS and nNO contribute to delayed recovery of injured nerves in old rats and to the maintenance of thermal hyperalgesia and the reduction in microvascular blood flow in the area innervated by the injured nerve. The results also raise the notion that possible interaction of free radicals with NO to form peroxynitrite might be responsible for such delayed recovery. Ironically, this study also reveals a positive role for free radicals in tissue repair and raises the notion that early intervention with antioxidants could exert a negative effect on repair of injured nerves.[1]


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