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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 6383240, 16 pages
Research Article

Restoring Spinal Noradrenergic Inhibitory Tone Attenuates Pain Hypersensitivity in a Rat Model of Parkinson’s Disease

1Department of Neurology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu 215004, China
2Suqian First Hospital, Suqian, Jiangsu 223800, China
3Institute of Neuroscience, Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu 215123, China
4Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Preventive and Translational Medicine for Geriatric Diseases, School of Public Health, Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu 215123, China

Received 21 April 2016; Accepted 29 August 2016

Academic Editor: Preston E. Garraghty

Copyright © 2016 Lei-Fang Cao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the present study, we investigated whether restoring descending noradrenergic inhibitory tone can attenuate pain in a PD rat model, which was established by stereotaxic infusion of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) into the bilateral striatum (CPu). PD rats developed thermal and mechanical hypersensitivity at the 4th week after surgery. HPLC analysis showed that NE content, but not dopamine or 5-HT, significantly decreased in lumbar spinal cord in PD rats. Additional noradrenergic depletion by injection of N-(2-chloroethyl)-N-ethyl-2-bromobenzylamine (DSP-4) aggravated pain hypersensitivity in PD rats. At the 5th week after injection of 6-OHDA, systemic treatment with pharmacological norepinephrine (NE) precursor droxidopa (L-DOPS) or 2 adrenoceptor agonist clonidine significantly attenuated thermal and mechanical pain hypersensitivity in PD rats. Furthermore, application of norepinephrine (NE) and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) reuptake inhibitors duloxetine, but not 5-HT selective reuptake inhibitors sertraline, significantly inhibited thermal and mechanical pain hypersensitivity in PD rats. Systemic administration of Madopar (L-DOPA) or the D2/D3 agonist pramipexole slightly inhibited the thermal, but not mechanical, hypersensitivity in PD rats. Thus, our study revealed that impairment of descending noradrenergic system may play a key role in PD-associated pain and restoring spinal noradrenergic inhibitory tone may serve as a novel strategy to manage PD-associated pain.