Dorsal horn neurons chronically deafferented by peripheral nerve injuries acquire hypersensitivity to noxious input from outside the original receptive field. This study examines the effect of electrical nerve stimulation at the time of injury on such injury-induced hypersensitivity. The medial 3/8 of the dorsal horn laminae I/II around the junction of 4th and 5th lumbar segments (the tibial territory) was deafferented by transection of the ipsilateral tibial nerve in rats. At 2 days or 3 weeks postinjury, the hindpaw was injected with formalin to induce c-fos. At 2 days, neurons with induced c-Fos protein-like immunoreactivity (fos-neurons) were largely confined in the lateral 5/8 of laminae I/II (the peroneal and hip, thus P and H territory). At 3 weeks, fos-neurons significantly increased in the deafferented tibial territory. A similar increase was also noted in the P and H territory. Thus the dorsal horn neurons exhibited c-fos hyperinducibility, an indication of hypersensitivity. Electrical stimulation with a train of 150 shocks (10 V, 2 ms) of the proximal nerve stump immediately after transection prevented the c-fos hyperinducibility. The effect was greater with the stimulation frequency of 0.5 Hz than 0.1 Hz or 10 Hz. The stimulation had no effect on the c-fos inducibility at 2 days postinjury.
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