Ischemia-reperfusion (IR) in the rat femoral artery has been proposed as an experimental model of vasculitic peripheral neuropathy (VPN) which presents neuropathic pain and peripheral nerve injury patterns observed clinically. This study investigates the involvement of the proinflammatory signaling pathway underlying the peripheral mechanisms of VPN. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were allocated to receive either a sham operation or IR. IR was induced by occluding the right femoral artery for 4 h followed by reperfusion periods from 0 to 72 h. The behavioral parameters were assessed at baseline as well as at days 1, 2 and 3 after reperfusion. The time-course analyses of proinflammatory mediators in the sciatic nerves were also performed on rats of the sham group or IR groups with reperfusion periods of 0, 2, 4, 24 and 72 h, respectively. The behavioral data confirmed that this VPN model induced hindpaw mechano-allodynia and heat hyperalgesia as well as impaired hindpaw grip strength. The molecular data revealed that IR in the femoral artery activated the expression of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) in the sciatic nerve indicating a neuroinflammatory response. Moreover, IR in the femoral artery increased the expression of proinflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-1β in the sciatic nerve. This study elucidated the novel time-course expression profiles of NF-κB and proinflammatory cytokines in VPN induced by IR which may be involved in the development of neuropathic pain. Since NF-κB is a key element during neuroinflammation, strategies targeting the NF-κB signaling pathway may provide therapeutic potential against VPN induced by IR.
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