Bilateral elevation of interleukin-6 protein and mRNA in both lumbar and cervical dorsal root ganglia following unilateral chronic compression injury of the sciatic nerve
Background: Current research implicates interleukin (IL)-6 as a key component of the nervous-system response to injury with various effects. Methods: We used unilateral chronic constriction injury (CCI) of rat sciatic nerve as a model for neuropathic pain. Immunofluorescence, ELISA, western blotting and in situ hybridization were used to investigate bilateral changes in IL-6 protein and mRNA in both lumbar (L4-L5) and cervical (C7-C8) dorsal root ganglia (DRG) following CCI. The operated (CCI) and sham-operated (sham) rats were assessed after 1, 3, 7, and 14 days. Withdrawal thresholds for mechanical hyperalgesia and latencies for thermal hyperalgesia were measured in both ipsilateral and contralateral hind and fore paws. Results: The ipsilateral hind paws of all CCI rats displayed a decreased threshold of mechanical hyperalgesia and withdrawal latency of thermal hyperalgesia, while the contralateral hind and fore paws of both sides exhibited no significant changes in mechanical or thermal sensitivity. No significant behavioral changes were found in the hind and fore paws on either side of the sham rats, except for thermal hypersensitivity, which was present bilaterally at 3 days. Unilateral CCI of the sciatic nerve induced a bilateral increase in IL-6 immunostaining in the neuronal bodies and satellite glial cells (SGC) surrounding neurons of both lumbar and cervical DRG, compared with those of naive control rats. This bilateral increase in IL-6 protein levels was confirmed by ELISA and western blotting. More intense staining for IL-6 mRNA was detected in lumbar and cervical DRG from both sides of rats following CCI. The DRG removed from sham rats displayed a similar pattern of staining for IL-6 protein and mRNA as found in naive DRG, but there was a higher staining intensity in SGC. Conclusions: Bilateral elevation of IL-6 protein and mRNA is not limited to DRG homonymous to the injured nerve, but also extended to DRG that are heteronymous to the injured nerve. The results for IL-6 suggest that the neuroinflammatory reaction of DRG to nerve injury is propagated alongside the neuroaxis from the lumbar to the remote cervical segments. This is probably related to conditioning of cervical DRG neurons to injury.