Timothy Angelotti MD, PhD

Publication Details

  • Sex-specific modulation of spinal nociception by alpha(2)-adrenoceptors: Differential regulation by estrogen and testosterone NEUROSCIENCE Thompson, A. D., Angelotti, T., Nag, S., Mokha, S. S. 2008; 153 (4): 1268-1277


    Sex-related differences in antinociception produced by the activation of alpha(2)-adrenoceptors (alpha(2)-ARs) have been reported, however, the precise role of gonadal steroids is still unknown. Hence, we hypothesized that estrogen and testosterone modulate antinociceptive effects of clonidine (an alpha(2)-AR agonist) on N-methyl-D-aspartate- (NMDA) and heat-induced spinal nociception. We also investigated whether estrogen or testosterone alters the expression of alpha(2A)-adrenoceptors in the spinal cord. Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were implanted with PE10 cannulae in the intrathecal space of the lumbosacral spinal cord and divided into male, proestrous and diestrous female, ovariectomized (OVX), estradiol-treated OVX (OVX+E), castrated male (GDX), testosterone (GDX+T) and estradiol-treated castrated male (GDX+E) groups. Clonidine dose-dependently inhibited NMDA-induced scratching behavior in the male and OVX groups but to a significantly lesser extent in the OVX+E group. It also increased the tail withdrawal latency in the male, OVX, diestrous and GDX+T groups but not in the OVX+E, proestrous, GDX and GDX+E groups. Levels of alpha(2A)-AR mRNA were significantly higher in the OVX, estradiol-treated OVX, GDX and GDX+E animals. In contrast, alpha(2A)-AR protein levels were higher in estradiol-treated OVX, GDX, GDX+T and GDX+E animals as compared with the male. Indeed, no correlations were observed between changes in the mRNA or protein levels of alpha(2A)-AR and behavioral observations. These results support our hypothesis that sex-related differences in alpha(2)-AR-mediated modulation of spinal nociception are gonadal hormone-dependent: estrogen attenuates antinociceptive effects in females whereas testosterone is required for the expression of antinociception in males. In addition, results also revealed that the mechanism of action of gonadal hormones may not involve a global alternation in expression of alpha(2A)-AR in the spinal cord. Estrogen-induced attenuation of alpha(2)-AR-mediated inhibition of nociception could contribute to the higher prevalence of pain syndromes in women.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.03.008

    View details for Web of Science ID 000256742200035

    View details for PubMedID 18434028

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