The Roles of Mechanical Compression and Chemical Irritation in Regulating Spinal Neuronal Signaling in Painful Cervical Nerve Root Injury
Both traumatic and slow-onset disc herniation can directly compress and/or chemically irritate cervical nerve roots, and both types of root injury elicit pain in animal models of radiculopathy. This study investigated the relative contributions of mechanical compression and chemical irritation of the nerve root to spinal regulation of neuronal activity using several outcomes. Modifications of two proteins known to regulate neurotransmission in the spinal cord, the neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and glutamate transporter 1 (GLT-1), were assessed in a rat model after painful cervical nerve root injuries using a mechanical compression, chemical irritation or their combination of injury. Only injuries with compression induced sustained behavioral hypersensitivity (p≤0.05) for two weeks and significant decreases (p<0.037) in CGRP and GLT-1 immunoreactivity to nearly half that of sham levels in the superficial dorsal horn.