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Inhibition of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex attenuates pain-related negative emotion in rats.


PMID 25038392

Abstract

The emotional components of pain are far less studied than the sensory components. Previous studies have indicated that the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) is implicated in the affective response to noxious stimuli. Activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in the spinal cord has been documented to play an important role in diverse kinds of pathological pain states. We used formalin-induced conditioned place aversion (F-CPA) in rats, an animal model believed to reflect the emotional response to pain, to investigate the involvement of p38 MAPK in the rACC after the induction of affective pain. Intraplantar formalin injection produced a significant activation of p38 MAPK, as well as mitogen-activated kinase kinase (MKK) 3 and MKK6, its upstream activators, in the bilateral rACC. p38 MAPK was elevated in both NeuN-positive neurons and Iba1-positive microglia in the rACC, but not GFAP-positive cells. Blocking p38 MAPK activation in the bilateral rACC using its specific inhibitor SB203580 or SB239063 dose-dependently suppressed the formation of F-CPA. Inhibiting p38 MAPK activation did not affect formalin-induced two-phase spontaneous nociceptive response and low intensity electric foot-shock induced CPA. The present study demonstrated that p38 MAPK signaling pathway in the rACC contributes to pain-related negative emotion. Thus, a new pharmacological strategy targeted at the p38 MAPK cascade may be useful in treating pain-related emotional disorders.

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