Plasticity in intact A delta- and C-fibers contributes to cold hypersensitivity in neuropathic rats. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cold hypersensitivity is a common sensory abnormality accompanying peripheral neuropathies and is difficult to treat. Progress has been made in understanding peripheral mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain but little is known concerning peripheral mechanisms of cold hypersensitivity. The aim of this study was to analyze the contribution of uninjured primary afferents to the cold hypersensitivity that develops in neuropathic rats. Rats with a lumbar 5 (L5) and L6 spinal nerve ligation (SNL, Chung model) but not sham, developed mechanical allodynia, evidenced by decreased paw withdrawal thresholds and increased magnitude of response to von Frey stimulation. Cold hypersensitivity also developed in SNL but not sham rats, evidenced by enhanced nociceptive behaviors induced by placement on a cold plate (6 degrees C) or application of icilin (a transient receptor potential M8 (TRPM8)/transient receptor potential A1 (TRPA1) receptor agonist) to nerve-injured hind paws. Single fiber recordings demonstrated that the mean conduction velocities of intact L4 cutaneous A delta- and C-fibers were not different between naive and SNL rats; however, mechanical thresholds of the A delta- but not the C-fibers were significantly decreased in SNL compared with naive. There was a higher prevalence of C-mechanoheat-cold (CMHC) fibers in SNL compared with naive, but the overall percentage of cold-sensitive C-fibers was not significantly increased compared with naive. This was in contrast to the numerous changes in A delta-fibers: the percentage of L4 cold sensitive A delta-, but not C-fibers, was significantly increased, the percentage of L4 icilin-sensitive A delta-, but not C-fibers, was significantly increased, the icilin-induced activity of L4 A delta-, but not C-fibers, was significantly increased. Icilin-induced activity was blocked by the TRPA1 antagonist Ruthenium Red. The results indicate plasticity in both A delta- and C-uninjured fibers, but A delta fibers appear to provide a major contribution to cold hypersensitivity in neuropathic rats.

publication date

  • November 2007