Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) reverts behavioral alterations and brainstem BDNF level increase induced by neuropathic pain model: Long-lasting effect.

PMID 26160698


Neuropathic pain (NP) is a chronic pain modality that usually results of damage in the somatosensory system. NP often shows insufficient response to classic analgesics and remains a challenge to medical treatment. The transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive technique, which induces neuroplastic changes in central nervous system of animals and humans. The brain derived neurotrophic factor plays an important role in synaptic plasticity process. Behavior changes such as decreased locomotor and exploratory activities and anxiety disorders are common comorbidities associated with NP. Evaluate the effect of tDCS treatment on locomotor and exploratory activities, and anxiety-like behavior, and peripheral and central BDNF levels in rats submitted to neuropathic pain model. Rats were randomly divided: Ss, SsS, SsT, NP, NpS, and NpT. The neuropathic pain model was induced by partial sciatic nerve compression at 14 days after surgery; the tDCS treatment was initiated. The animals of treated groups were subjected to a 20 minute session of tDCS, for eight days. The Open Field and Elevated Pluz Maze tests were applied 24 h (phase I) and 7 days (phase II) after the end of tDCS treatment. The serum, spinal cord, brainstem and cerebral cortex BDNF levels were determined 48 h (phase I) and 8 days (phase II) after tDCS treatment by ELISA. The chronic constriction injury (CCI) induces decrease in locomotor and exploratory activities, increases in the behavior-like anxiety, and increases in the brainstem BDNF levels, the last, in phase II (one-way ANOVA/SNK, P<0.05 for all). The tDCS treatment already reverted all these effects induced by CCI (one-way ANOVA/SNK, P<0.05 for all). Furthermore, the tDCS treatment decreased serum and cerebral cortex BDNF levels and it increased these levels in the spinal cord in phase II (one-way ANOVA/SNK, P<0.05). tDCS reverts behavioral alterations associated to neuropathic pain, indicating possible analgesic and anxiolytic tDCS effects. tDCS treatment induces changes in the BDNF levels in different regions of the central nervous system (CNS), and this effect can be attributed to different cellular signaling activations.