Damage on one side of the body can also result in pain on the contralateral unaffected side, called mirror-image pain (MIP). Currently, themechanisms responsible for the development of MIP are unknown. In this study, we investigated the involvement of spinal microglia and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) in the development of MIP using a peripheral inflammatory pain model. After unilateral carrageenan injection, mechanical allodynia (MA) in both hind paws and the expression levels of spinal Iba-1, IL-1β, and GFAP were evaluated. Ipsilateral MA was induced beginning at 3 hours after carrageenan injection,whereas contralateral MA showed a delayed onset occurring 5 days after injection. A single intrathecal (i.t.) injection of minocycline, a tetracycline derivative that displays selective inhibition of microglial activation, or an interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) on the day of carrageenan injection caused an early temporary induction of contralateral MA, whereas repeated i.t. treatment with these drugs from days 0 to 3 resulted in a long-lasting contralateral MA, which was evident in its advanced development. We further showed that IL-1β was localized to microglia and that minocycline inhibited the carrageenan-induced increases in spinal Iba-1 and IL-1β expression. Conversely, minocycline or IL-1ra pretreatment increased GFAP expression as compared with that of control rats. However, i.t. pretreatment with fluorocitrate, an astrocyte inhibitor, restored minocycline- or IL-1ra-induced contralateral MA. These results suggest that spinal IL-1β derived from activated microglia temporarily suppresses astrocyte activation, which can ultimately prevent the development of contralateral MA under inflammatory conditions. These findings imply that microglial IL-1β plays an important role in regulating the induction of inflammatory MIP.
- Mirror-image pain