Sorge RE, Martin LJ, Alexander J, Beggs S, Rosen S, Zhang J, Salter MW, Mogil JS (2013) Male and female mice use distinct spinal immune cells to mediate chronic pain. Neuroscience 2013 Abstracts 642.11. Society for Neuroscience, San Diego, CA.
Summary: There are clear sex differences in the sensitivity to painful stimuli and analgesics in humans and animals. Some data suggest that pain processing is mediated by separable pathways in male and female mice, for example we recently demonstrated that spinal cord toll-like receptor 4 is used to mediate chronic pain in male, but not female mice. Here, we sought to investigate the sex-dependent pathways involved in spinal mediation of pain in male and female mice. First, we found that allodynia induced by complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) or spared nerve injury (SNI) was reversible via intrathecal glial inhibitors (minocycline, 0-300 μg; fluorocitrate, 0-1.5 nmol; propentofylline, 0-75 μg), or glial cell depletion using Mac1-saporin, only in male mice and never in intact female mice. This suggests that female mice utilize a microglia-independent spinal pathway to mediate chronic pain. To investigate whether T cells might mediate chronic pain in female mice, we used two strains of T cell-deficient animals; Rag1 (Rag1tm1Mom) and nude CD1 (Crl: CD1-Foxn1nu). In both strains, SNI- or CFA-induced allodynia was reversible in female mice by glial inhibitors, similar to male mice. This effect was prevented through adoptive transfer of wild type (C57BL/6) splenocytes to Rag1 female mice, suggesting T-cell involvement. T-cell infiltration into the CNS was reduced with an antibody to β1-integrin; this manipulation transiently reversed allodynia in female mice, but not male mice, further confirming that T cells mediate chronic pain in females. Finally, castration was found to reduce the anti-allodynic effect of glial inhibitors and enhanced the potential of anti-β1 integrin in male mice. In contrast, ovariectomy with testosterone replacement in female mice eliminated the effect of anti-β1 integrin and enhanced the effect of glial inhibitors. We have uncovered a robust, qualitative, and previously unknown sex difference in spinal mediation of chronic pain in mice. Attention to this critical sex difference in pain mediation may be vital to future pharmaceutical development and to interpretation of clinical pain treatments that focus on one system or the other in a mixed-sex population.
Related Products: Mac-1-SAP mouse/human (Cat. #IT-06)