• Differential activation of colonic afferents and dorsal horn neurons underlie stress-induced and comorbid visceral hypersensitivity in female rats

      Cao, Dong-Yuan; Hu, Bo; Xue, Yang; Hanson, Shelby; Dessem, Dean; Dorsey, Susan G; Traub, Richard J (Elsevier Inc., 2021-04-20)
      Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and temporomandibular disorder (TMD), represent a group of idiopathic pain conditions that likely have peripheral and central mechanisms contributing to their pathology, but are poorly understood. These conditions are exacerbated by stress and have a female predominance. The presence of one condition predicts the presence or development of additional conditions, making this a significant pain management problem. The current study was designed to determine if the duration and magnitude of peripheral sensitization and spinal central sensitization differs between restraint stress-induced visceral hypersensitivity (SIH) and chronic comorbid pain hypersensitivity (CPH; stress during pre-existing orofacial pain). SIH in female rats, as determined by the visceromotor response, persisted at least four but resolved by seven weeks. In contrast, CPH persisted at least seven weeks. Surprisingly, colonic afferents in both SIH and CPH rats were sensitized at seven weeks. CPH rats also had referred pain through seven weeks, but locally anesthetizing the colon only attenuated the referred pain through four weeks, suggesting a transition to colonic afferent independent central sensitization. Different phenotypes of dorsal horn neurons were sensitized in the CPH rats seven weeks post stress compared to four weeks or SIH rats. The current study suggests differential processing of colonic afferent input to the lumbosacral spinal cord contributes to visceral hypersensitivity during comorbid chronic pain conditions. Perspective: Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions represent a unique challenge in pain management. The diverse nature of peripheral organs hinders a clear understanding of underlying mechanisms accounting for the comorbidity. This study highlights a mismatch between the condition-dependent behavior and peripheral and spinal mechanisms that contribute to visceral pain hypersensitivity.