Osthole, a Coumadin Analog from Cnidium monnieri (L.) Cusson, Ameliorates Nucleus Pulposus-Induced Radicular Inflammatory Pain by Inhibiting the Activation of Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase in Rats.

PMID 28486232


This study was aimed at assessing the role of extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) in mechanical allodynia resulting from lumbar disc herniation (LDH) and exploring the osthole's anti-nociceptive effect on ERK activation. Radicular pain was generated by applying nucleus pulposus (NP) to the L5 dorsal root ganglion (DRG). Allodynia was measured using Von Frey filaments to calculate the mechanical pain threshold. Phosphorylated ERK and total ERK protein in the lumbar spinal dorsal horn was detected by using the Western blot technique. Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) mRNA was assessed by real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. The application of NP to L5 DRG induced mechanical hypersensitivity which lasted for at least 28 days, and a significant increase of ERK phosphorylation in the ipsilateral spinal dorsal horn from postoperative day (POD) 1 to POD 21. ERK inhibitor attenuated NP-induced hyperalgesia compared to the dimethyl sulfoxide-(vehicle control) administered group (p < 0.05). Epidural treatment with osthole could ameliorate NP-evoked hyperalgesia by suppressing the activation of ERK rather than decreasing the expression of ERK protein. Osthole could also inhibit the increased expression of COX-2 mRNA in spinal dorsal horn, which was a known downstream effect of ERK signaling pathway. Our results suggest that ERK activation in the spinal dorsal horn plays a vital role in NP-evoked hyperalgesia. Osthole exerts analgesic effect on radicular inflammatory pain in LDH rat model, by down-regulating the mRNA expression of the target gene of COX-2 via inhibiting ERK activation in the spinal dorsal horn.

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