Central glial activation mediates cancer-induced pain in a rat facial cancer model

K. Hidaka, K. Ono, N. Harano, T. Sago, M. Nunomaki, S. Shiiba, O. Nakanishi, H. Fukushima, K. Inenaga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Peripheral and central glial activation plays an important role in development of pain hypersensitivity induced by inflammation and nerve injury. However, the involvement of glial cells in cancer pain is not well understood. The present study evaluated the peripheral and central glial activation and the effect of an inhibitor of glial activation, propentofylline, on pain-related behaviors in a rat facial cancer model of the growth of Walker 256B cells in the unilateral vibrissal pad until days 3-4 post-inoculation. As compared with sham animals, the facial grooming period was prolonged, the withdrawal latency to radiant heat stimulation was shortened, and the withdrawal threshold by von Frey hair stimulation was decreased at the inoculated region, indicating the development of spontaneous pain, thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia. In immunostainings for Iba1 and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), although there were no morphological changes of GFAP-immunopositive satellite glial cells in the trigeminal ganglion, Iba1-immunopositive microglia and GFAP-immunopositive astrocytes in the medullary dorsal horn showed large somata with cell proliferation. After the daily i.p. administration of propentofylline beginning pre-inoculation, the central glial activation was attenuated, the prolonged facial grooming was partially suppressed, and the induced allodynia and hyperalgesia from day 2 were prevented, without a change in tumor size. These results suggest that glial activation in the CNS, but not in the peripheral nervous system, mediates the enhancement of spontaneous pain and the development of allodynia and hyperalgesia at an early stage in the facial cancer model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-343
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Apr 28


  • Astrocyte
  • Cancer pain
  • Facial cancer
  • Medullary dorsal horn
  • Microglia
  • Propentofylline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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