Author(s): Kelly S, Dunham JP, Donaldson LF
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Abstract Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and rat models of RA exhibit symmetrical mirror-image spread. Many studies have sought to understand the underlying mechanisms and have reported contralateral effects that are manifested in many different forms. It is now well accepted that neurogenic mechanisms contribute to the symmetrical spread of inflammation. However, very few investigators have directly assessed changes in contralateral nerve function and there is a paucity of data. In the present study our aim was to investigate whether there are changes, in particular in the nervous system but also in the vascular system contralateral to an inflamed rat knee joint, that might precede overt inflammation and symmetrical spread. Three to five days following Complete Freund's Adjuvant (CFA) injection we found spontaneous antidromic (away from the CNS) activity in the homologous sensory nerve contralateral to the inflamed joint. Antidromic activity of this nature is known to result in the peripheral release of pro-inflammatory and vasoactive neuropeptides. Importantly, this activity was modulated by systemic analgesic treatment. Furthermore, levels of Evans blue dye extravasation were significantly increased in the joint contralateral to inflammation, indicating altered vascular function. These data suggest that contralateral increases in sensory neural activity and vascular function may account for the symmetrical spread of RA, and that early analgesic treatment may prevent or delay the spread of this debilitating disease.
This article was published in Eur J Neurosci
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology