Vasculitic peripheral neuropathy (VPN) is characterized by acute-to-subacute onset of painful sensory and motor disturbances that result from inflammatory obliteration of nerve blood vessels and subsequent ischaemic injury. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of various peripheral neuropathies, and 4-phenylbutyric acid (4-PBA) is a chemical chaperone that inhibits ER stress signaling. We investigated the effects of 4-PBA on neuropathic pain associated with VPN induced by ischaemia–reperfusion (IR) and its underlying mechanisms. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were allocated to one of the following groups: sham, sham + 4-PBA, IR, and IR + 4-PBA. IR was achieved by occluding the femoral artery for 4 h followed by reperfusion. The behavioral parameters were assessed, and the expression of ER stress markers and nuclear factor (NF)-κB in sciatic nerves was measured. The behavioral data confirmed that VPN induced by IR leads to hindpaw mechano-allodynia and heat hyperalgesia as well as impaired hindpaw grip strength, indicating the development of neuropathic pain and debilitating symptoms of VPN. The molecular data revealed that VPN induced by IR activated ER stress sensors and effector molecules as well as NF-κB in the sciatic nerves, indicating the involvement of ER stress and NF-κB-mediated neuroinflammation. Notably, 4-PBA significantly reduced the expression of all these markers and improved all behavioral changes induced by IR. This study demonstrated that ER stress and NF-κB-mediated neuroinflammation contribute to VPN induced by IR and that 4-PBA has protective potential against neuropathic pain associated with VPN.
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