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The behavioral and neuronal effects induced by repetitive nociceptive stimulation are affected by gonadal hormones in male rats

Ceccarelli, Ilaria; Scaramuzzino, Andrea; Massafra, Cosimo; Aloisi, Anna Maria

doi: 10.1016/S0304-3959(02)00460-8

The role of gonadal hormones in inducing long-term modifications in response to transient nociceptive stimuli was investigated in adult male rats. Three weeks after gonadectomy or sham surgery, animals were randomly divided into groups to be exposed to sham (only a prick in the dorsal hind paw) or formalin treatment (50 μl, 5% s.c. in the dorsal hind paw) once a week for the following 3 weeks. In gonadectomized animals the formalin-induced responses (licking, flexing and jerking of the injected paw) did not differ from those of intact animals after the first formalin injection. However, their levels were higher after the second or third injections. Indeed, in intact animals the formalin-induced responses progressively decreased, being significantly lower after the third injection than after the first; in gonadectomized animals, the formalin-induced responses did not change with repetition of the formalin treatment. In intact rats, c-Fos expression in the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus and arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus remained at control levels or decreased in animals injected two or three times with formalin; in gonadectomized rats, c-Fos expression increased with repetition of the noxious stimulation, reaching the highest levels in animals injected three times with formalin. These results show that male gonadal hormones have an inhibitory, adaptive effect on the behavioral and neuronal responses to repeated nociceptive stimulation.

Department of Physiology, University of Siena, Via Aldo Moro, 53100 Siena, Italy

Corresponding author. Tel.: +39–0577–234103; fax: +39–0577–234037


Submitted February 27, 2002; accepted November 14, 2002.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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