Srinivasu Kallakuri, Tsuneo Takebayashi, A. Cuneyt Ozaktay, Chaoyang Chen, Shangyou Yang, Paul H. Wooley, John M. Cavanaugh

July 2004, Volume 14, Issue 10, pp 956 - 964 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-004-0773-6

First Online: 28 July 2004

This study investigated cytokine expression, behavioral and neurophysiologic changes in Lewis rats whose lumbar nerve roots were exposed to nucleus pulposus (NP). Allografted NP or fat was implanted over the left L5 nerve root. Sham rats had no NP or fat implantation. Control rats had no surgery. Rats were allowed to survive for 7 days and were tested daily for hind-paw mechanical and thermal withdrawal response (TWR). Granulation tissue was processed by immunohistochemistry for cytokines—interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β), interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Neurophysiological response from the L5 nerve roots was also characterized after 7 days. Significant staining density for IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF was observed in NP granulation tissue compared with fat and sham (p<0.05). However, there were no significant thermal and mechanical behavioral changes. TWR data computed as percentage-difference scores indicated no significant changes in withdrawal response between the four groups, although NP-treated group showed a trend of decreasing withdrawal latency. Comparison of combined percentage-difference scores revealed increased sensitivity in the NP group on days 4, 5 and 6, 7 when compared with control rats only, with no significant changes in the percentage-difference scores of fat and sham rats when compared to control. Neurophysiologically, the percentage increase in discharge rate in NP-treated rats was higher than control (p<0.05) but not higher than fat and sham rats. These results support the inflammatory nature of NP but offer limited support to NP-mediated thermal behavioral changes.

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