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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Anesthesiology and Pain Management - Immunology - Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience - Pharmacology - Physiology

IL-4 Deficiency Is Associated with Mechanical Hypersensitivity in Mice
Published: Friday, December 02, 2011
Author: Nurcan Üçeyler et al.

by Nurcan Üçeyler, Tengü Topuzoglu, Peter Schießer, Saskia Hahnenkamp, Claudia Sommer

Interleukin-4 (IL-4) is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic cytokine that induces opioid receptor transcription. We investigated IL-4 knockout (ko) mice to characterize their pain behavior before and after chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve as a model for neuropathic pain. We investigated opioid responsivity and measured cytokine and opioid receptor gene expression in the peripheral and central nervous system (PNS, CNS) of IL-4 ko mice in comparison with wildtype (wt) mice. Naïve IL-4 ko mice displayed tactile allodynia (wt: 0.45 g; ko: 0.18 g; p<0.001), while responses to heat and cold stimuli and to muscle pressure were not different. No compensatory changes in the gene expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF), IL-1ß, IL-10, and IL-13 were found in the PNS and CNS of naïve IL-4 ko mice. However, IL-1ß gene expression was stronger in the sciatic nerve of IL-4 ko mice (p<0.001) 28 days after CCI and only IL-4 ko mice had elevated IL-10 gene expression (p?=?0.014). Remarkably, CCI induced TNF (p<0.01), IL-1ß (p<0.05), IL-10 (p<0.05), and IL-13 (p<0.001) gene expression exclusively in the ipsilateral spinal cord of IL-4 ko mice. The compensatory overexpression of the anti-inflammatory and analgesic cytokines IL-10 and IL-13 in the spinal cord of IL-4 ko mice may explain the lack of genotype differences for pain behavior after CCI. Additionally, CCI induced gene expression of µ, ?, and d opioid receptors in the contralateral cortex and thalamus of IL-4 ko mice, paralleled by fast onset of morphine analgesia, but not in wt mice. We conclude that a lack of IL-4 leads to mechanical sensitivity; the compensatory hyperexpression of analgesic cytokines and opioid receptors after CCI, in turn, protects IL-4 ko mice from enhanced pain behavior after nerve lesion.