Neonatal immune challenge alters nociception in the adult rat

Lysa Boisse, Sarah Spencer, Abdeslam Mouihate, Nathalie Vergnolle, Quentin J Pittman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Intense pain or intense peripheral inflammation experienced during development can have pronounced effects upon adult pain sensation. However, little is known about the more commonly encountered mild systemic inflammation, such as that experienced with mild illness. Neonatal exposure to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an established model of immune system activation, has been shown to affect febrile and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) responses to a similar exposure in adulthood. Adult LPS also elicits a range of sickness behaviours, including enhanced responses to painful stimuli. We, therefore, hypothesized that adult sensation and pain responses could be affected by a neonatal LPS challenge. Male and female Sprague-Dawley rats were administered LPS at postnatal day 14 and were tested in adulthood for nociceptive responses to thermal and mechanical stimuli using, respectively, a plantar test apparatus and von Frey filaments, before and after adult LPS. Expression of dorsal root ganglion and lumbar spinal cord COX-2 was also examined. Animals treated as neonates with saline showed the expected hypersensitivity to painful stimuli after adult LPS as well as enhanced spinal cord COX-2. Neonatally LPS-treated rats, however, showed a significantly different profile. They displayed enhanced baseline nociception and elevated basal spinal cord COX-2 compared with neonatally saline-treated rats. Also, rather than the expected hyperalgesia after adult LPS, no changes in nociceptive responses and a reduction in spinal cord COX-2 expression were observed. These findings have important implications for the understanding of pain and its management and highlight the importance of the neonatal period in the development of pain pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133 - 141
Number of pages9
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Cite this