The phenomenon of learned placebo responses in neuroendocrine and immune functions is a fascinating example of communication between the brain and both the endocrine and peripheral immune systems. In this chapter, we will give a short overview of afferent and efferent communication pathways, as well as the central mechanisms, which steer the behavioral conditioned immune response. Subsequently, we will focus on data that provides evidence for learned immune responses in experimental animals and learned neuroendocrine and immune placebo responses in humans. Finally, we will take a critical look at these learning protocols, to determine whether or not they can be considered a viable additional treatment option to pharmacological regimens in clinical routine. This is fundamental, since there are still a number of issues, which need to be solved, such as the potential reproducibility, predictability, and extinction of the learned neuroendocrine and immune responses. Together, these findings not only provide an excellent basis to increase our understanding of human biology but may also have far reaching clinical implications. They pave the way for the ultimate aim of employing associative learning protocols as supportive treatment strategies in pharmacological regimens. As a result, medication levels may be reduced, as well as their unwanted side effects, providing a maximized therapeutic outcome to the benefit of the patient.
There exists converging evidence to support a role of pain-related fear in the pathophysiology and treatment of chronic pain conditions. Pain-related fear is shaped by associative learning and memory processes, which remain poorly characterized especially in the context of abdominal pain such as in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Therefore, using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we assessed the neural mechanisms mediating the formation, extinction and reinstatement of abdominal pain-related fear in healthy humans. Employing painful rectal distensions as clinically-relevant unconditioned stimuli (US), in this fear conditioning study we tested if differential excitatory and inhibitory learning is evocable after very few CS-US learning trials ("rapid conditioning"), and explored the underlying neural substrates of these learning and memory processes.
Treatment with the selective calcineurin inhibitor and immunosuppressive drug cyclosporine A (CsA) is associated with neurotoxicity and neurocognitive impairments. Whether and to what extent CsA is inducing alterations of the neuroendocrine status is unknown so far. Therefore, the present study investigated the effect of short-term CsA treatment on hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity and catecholamine release as well as state anxiety in healthy male subjects. Treatment with CsA significantly reduced plasma concentrations of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, and noradrenaline whereas adrenaline levels and state anxiety remained unaffected. Future studies should analyze the mechanisms of CsA-induced effects on neuroendocrine variables, neurocognitive functions and mood.
Rapamycin is a drug with antiproliferative and immunosuppressive properties, widely used for prevention of acute graft rejection and cancer therapy. It specifically inhibits the activity of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a protein kinase known to play an important role in cell growth, proliferation and antibody production. Clinical observations show that patients undergoing therapy with immunosuppressive drugs frequently suffer from affective disorders such as anxiety or depression. However, whether these symptoms are attributed to the action of the distinct compounds remains rather elusive. The present study investigated in rats neurobehavioral consequences of acute rapamycin treatment. Systemic administration of a single low dose rapamycin (3mg/kg) led to enhanced neuronal activity in the amygdala analyzed by intracerebral electroencephalography and FOS protein expression 90min after drug injection. Moreover, behavioral investigations revealed a rapamycin-induced increase in anxiety-related behaviors in the elevated plus-maze and in the open-field. The behavioral alterations correlated to enhanced amygdaloid expression of KLK8 and FKBP51, proteins that have been implicated in the development of anxiety and depression. Together, these results demonstrate that acute blockade of mTOR signaling by acute rapamycin administration not only causes changes in neuronal activity, but also leads to elevated protein expression in protein kinase pathways others than mTOR, contributing to the development of anxiety-like behavior. Given the pivotal role of the amygdala in mood regulation, associative learning, and modulation of cognitive functions, our findings raise the question whether therapy with rapamycin may induce alterations in patients neuropsychological functioning.
Inflammation-induced pain amplification and hypersensitivity play a role in the pathophysiology of numerous clinical conditions. Experimental endotoxemia has recently been implemented as model to analyze immune-mediated processes in human pain. In this study, we aimed to analyze dose- and time-dependent effects of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on clinically-relevant pain models for musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain as well as the interaction among LPS-induced changes in inflammatory markers, pain sensitivity and negative affect.
Systemic inflammation is among the most prominent and most frequently observed responses of the immune system. Over the past decades, it has become clear that inflammatory cytokines not only affect immune and metabolic functions but also cause a wide range of behavioral and mood changes. Based on experimental findings in animals and observations in clinical populations it has been hypothesized that inflammation-induced neurocognitive changes contribute to the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric diseases. However, since certain aspects of human behavior cannot be modeled in laboratory animals, there is a need for human models of systemic inflammation. In this review, we summarize recent studies employing administration of endotoxin as a model to induce transient systemic inflammation in healthy human subjects.
Knowledge about the effects of the neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) on human sexual behaviors and partner interactions remains limited. Based on our previous studies, we hypothesize that OXT should be able to positively influence parameters of sexual function and couple interactions. Employing a naturalistic setting involving 29 healthy heterosexual couples (n=58 participants), we analyzed the acute effects of intranasally administered OXT (24IU) on sexual drive, arousal, orgasm and refractory aspects of sexual behavior together with partner interactions. Data were assessed by psychometric instruments (Acute Sexual Experiences Scale, Arizona Sexual Experience Scale) as well as biomarkers, such as cortisol, ?-amylase and heart rate. Intranasal OXT administration did not alter "classical" parameters of sexual function, such as sexual drive, arousal or penile erection and lubrication. However, analysis of variance and a hierarchical linear model (HLM) revealed specific effects related to the orgasmic/post-orgasmic interval as well as parameters of partner interactions. According to HLM analysis, OXT increased the intensity of orgasm, contentment after sexual intercourse and the effect of study participation. According to ANOVA analysis, these effects were more pronounced in men. Men additionally indicated higher levels of sexual satiety after sexual intercourse with OXT administration. Women felt more relaxed and subgroups indicated better abilities to share sexual desires or to empathize with their partners. The effect sizes were small to moderate. Biomarkers indicated moderate psychophysiological activation but were not affected by OXT, gender or method of contraception. Using a naturalistic setting, intranasal OXT administration in couples exerted differential effects on parameters of sexual function and partner interactions. These results warrant further investigations, including subjects with sexual and relationship problems.
The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) plays a crucial role in the course and development of autoimmune disease in Fas-deficient lpr/lpr mice. As regulatory T cells (Tregs) are considered important modulators of autoimmune processes, we analyzed the interaction between the SNS and Tregs in this murine model of lymphoproliferative disease. We found that the percentage of Tregs among CD4(+) T cells is increased in the spleen, lymph nodes, and thymus of lpr/lpr mice as compared to age-matched C57Bl/6J (B6) mice. Furthermore, noradrenaline (NA), the main sympathetic neurotransmitter, induced apoptosis in B6- and lpr/lpr-derived Tregs. NA also reduced the frequency of Foxp3(+) cells and Foxp3 mRNA expression via ?2-adrenoceptor (?2-AR)-mediated mechanisms in a concentration and time-dependent manner. Destruction of peripheral sympathetic nerves by 6-hydroxydopamine significantly increased the percentage of Tregs in B6 control mice to an extent comparable to aged-matched lpr/lpr mice. The concentration of splenic NA negatively correlated with the frequency of CD4(+)Foxp3(+) Tregs. Additionally, 60days after sympathectomy, a partial recovery of NA concentrations led to Treg percentages comparable to those of intact, vehicle-treated controls. Immunohistochemical analysis of the spleen revealed localization of single Foxp3(+) Tregs in proximity to NA-producing nerve fibers, providing an interface between Tregs and the SNS. Taken together, our data suggest a relation between the degree of splenic sympathetic innervation and the size of the Treg compartment. While there are few examples of endogenous substances capable of affecting Tregs, our results provide a possible explanation of how the magnitude of the Treg compartment in the spleen can be regulated by the SNS.
A large number of unwanted adverse events and symptoms reported by patients in clinical trials are not caused by the drug provided, since most of adverse events also occur in corresponding placebo groups. These nocebo effects also play a major role in drug discontinuation in clinical practice, negatively affecting treatment efficacy as well as patient adherence and compliance. Experimental and clinical data document a large interindividual variability in nocebo responses, however, data on psychological, biological or genetic predictors of nocebo responses are lacking. Thus, with an established paradigm of behaviorally conditioned immunosuppressive effects we analyzed possible genetic predictors for nocebo responses. We focused on the genetic polymorphisms in the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene (Val158Met) and analyzed drug specific and general side effects before and after immunosuppressive medication and subsequent placebo intake in 62 healthy male subjects. Significantly more drug-specific as well as general side effects were reported from homozygous carriers of the Val158 variant during medication as well as placebo treatment compared to the other genotype groups. Val158/Val158 carriers also had significantly higher scores in the somatosensory amplification scale (SSAS) and the BMQ (beliefs about medicine questionnaire). Together these data demonstrate potential genetic and psychological variables predicting nocebo responses after drug and placebo intake, which might be utilized to minimize nocebo effects in clinical trials and medical practice.
Placebo responses have been shown to affect the symptomatology of skin diseases. However, expectation-induced placebo effects on wound healing processes have not been investigated yet. We analysed whether subjects expectation of receiving an active drug accelerates the healing process of experimentally induced wounds. In 22 healthy men (experimental group, n?=?11; control group, n?=?11) wounds were induced by ablative laser on both thighs. Using a deceptive paradigm, participants in the experimental group were informed that an innovative wound gel was applied on one of the two wounds, whereas a non-active gel was applied on the wound of the other thigh. In fact, both gels were identical hydrogels without any active components. A control group was informed to receive a non-active gel on both wounds. Progress in wound healing was documented via planimetry on days 1, 4 and 7 after wound induction. From day 9 onwards wound inspections were performed daily accompanied by a change of the dressing and a new application of the gel. No significant differences could be observed with regard to duration or process of wound healing, either by intraindividual or by interindividual comparisons. These data document no expectation-induced placebo effect on the healing process of experimentally induced wounds in healthy volunteers.
Toll like receptor 4 (TLR4) is the major recognition receptor for lipopolysaccharides and plays a major role in the inflammatory response. CD11b is expressed on the surface of many leukocytes including monocytes. The CD11b/CD18 complex is involved in the inflammatory response by mediating migration and adhesion of leukocytes. The aim of this human in vivo study was to investigate the expression of TLR4 and CD11b on the surface of human monocytes after in vivo low-dose LPS stimulation.
Acute peripheral inflammation with corresponding increases in peripheral cytokines affects neuropsychological functions and induces depression-like symptoms. However, possible effects of increased immune responses on social cognition remain unknown. Therefore, this study investigated the effects of experimentally induced acute inflammation on performance and neural responses during a social cognition task assessing Theory of Mind (ToM) ability. In this double-blind randomized crossover functional magnetic resonance imaging study, 18 healthy right-handed male volunteers received an injection of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 0.4 ng/kg) or saline, respectively. Plasma levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines as well as mood ratings were analyzed together with brain activation during a validated ToM task (i.e. Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test). LPS administration induced pronounced transient increases in pro- (IL-6, TNF-?) and anti-inflammatory (IL-10, IL-1ra) cytokines as well as decreases in mood. Social cognition performance was not affected by acute inflammation. However, altered neural activity was observed during the ToM task after LPS administration, reflected by increased responses in the fusiform gyrus, temporo-parietal junction, superior temporal gyrus and precuneus. The increased task-related neural responses in the LPS condition may reflect a compensatory strategy or a greater social cognitive processing as a function of sickness.
Prenatal infection and exposure to traumatizing experiences during peripuberty have each been associated with increased risk for neuropsychiatric disorders. Evidence is lacking for the cumulative impact of such prenatal and postnatal environmental challenges on brain functions and vulnerability to psychiatric disease. Here, we show in a translational mouse model that combined exposure to prenatal immune challenge and peripubertal stress induces synergistic pathological effects on adult behavioral functions and neurochemistry. We further demonstrate that the prenatal insult markedly increases the vulnerability of the pubescent offspring to brain immune changes in response to stress. Our findings reveal interactions between two adverse environmental factors that have individually been associated with neuropsychiatric disease and support theories that mental illnesses with delayed onsets involve multiple environmental hits.
Our understanding of the mechanisms mediating or moderating the placebo response to medicines has grown substantially over the past decade and offers the opportunity to capitalize on its benefits in future drug development as well as in clinical practice. In this article, we discuss three strategies that could be used to modulate the placebo response, depending on which stage of the drug development process they are applied. In clinical trials the placebo effect should be minimized to optimize drug-placebo differences, thus ensuring that the efficacy of the investigational drug can be truly evaluated. Once the drug is approved and in clinical use, placebo effects should be maximized by harnessing patients expectations and learning mechanisms to improve treatment outcomes. Finally, personalizing placebo responses - which involves considering an individuals genetic predisposition, personality, past medical history and treatment experience - could also maximize therapeutic outcomes.
Fear conditioning is relevant for elucidating the pathophysiology of anxiety, but may also be useful in the context of chronic pain syndromes which often overlap with anxiety. Thus far, no fear conditioning studies have employed aversive visceral stimuli from the lower gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, we implemented a fear conditioning paradigm to analyze the conditioned response to rectal pain stimuli using fMRI during associative learning, extinction and reinstatement. In N?=?21 healthy humans, visual conditioned stimuli (CS(+)) were paired with painful rectal distensions as unconditioned stimuli (US), while different visual stimuli (CS(-)) were presented without US. During extinction, all CSs were presented without US, whereas during reinstatement, a single, unpaired US was presented. In region-of-interest analyses, conditioned anticipatory neural activation was assessed along with perceived CS-US contingency and CS unpleasantness. Fear conditioning resulted in significant contingency awareness and valence change, i.e., learned unpleasantness of a previously neutral stimulus. This was paralleled by anticipatory activation of the anterior cingulate cortex, the somatosensory cortex and precuneus (all during early acquisition) and the amygdala (late acquisition) in response to the CS(+). During extinction, anticipatory activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to the CS(-) was observed. In the reinstatement phase, a tendency for parahippocampal activation was found. Fear conditioning with rectal pain stimuli is feasible and leads to learned unpleasantness of previously neutral stimuli. Within the brain, conditioned anticipatory activations are seen in core areas of the central fear network including the amygdala and the anterior cingulate cortex. During extinction, conditioned responses quickly disappear, and learning of new predictive cue properties is paralleled by prefrontal activation. A tendency for parahippocampal activation during reinstatement could indicate a reactivation of the old memory trace. Together, these findings contribute to our understanding of aversive visceral learning and memory processes relevant to the pathophysiology of chronic abdominal pain.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with an enhanced risk for cardiovascular and other inflammatory diseases. Chronic low-level inflammation has been suggested as a potential mechanism linking these conditions.
Salivary ?-amylase (sAA) is a digestive enzyme that plays also an important role in mucosal immunity. Secretion of the sAA is largely under the control of the autonomic nervous system and increases in sAA activity have repeatedly been observed in response to various stressors. The present study aimed at investigating whether and to what extent sAA activity levels are affected during systemic inflammation. Fourteen healthy male volunteers received intravenous injections of either bacterial endotoxin or placebo at two different occasions in a randomized and double-blinded manner. sAA activity was monitored over a period of 6h together with inflammatory markers, plasma norepinephrine (NE) and salivary cortisol levels, vital parameters, and state anxiety. Endotoxin administration elicited a transient inflammatory response reflected by increases in body temperature, whole blood cell counts, and circulating levels of interleukin (IL)-6. The immune changes were accompanied by a transient increase in sAA activity, elevations in salivary cortisol and plasma NE concentrations, as well as increases in heart rate and state anxiety. Although sAA and plasma NE responses showed distinct time courses, a significant positive correlation over the total observation period was found. Whether the observed sAA response is driven by an increase in sympathetic activity or more generally reflects inflammation induced changes in sympathetic-parasympathetic balance remains to be elucidated.
Placebo effects have been reported in type I allergic reactions. However the neuropsychological mechanisms steering placebo responses in allergies are largely unknown. The study analyzed whether and to what extend a conditioned placebo response is affecting type I allergic reactions and whether this response can be reproduced at multiple occasions.
Extinction is not always permanent, as indicated by several types of recovery effects, such as the renewal effect, which may occur after a context change and points towards the importance of contextual cues. Strengthening the retrieval of extinction memory is a crucial aim of extinction-based psychotherapeutic treatments of anxiety disorders to prevent relapse. Stress is known to modulate learning and memory, with mostly enhancing effects on memory consolidation. However, whether such a consolidation-enhancing effect of acute stress can also be found for extinction memory has not yet been examined in humans. In this study, we investigated the effect of stress after extinction learning on the retrieval of extinction memory in a predictive learning renewal paradigm. Participants took the part of being the doctor of a fictitious patient and learned to predict whether certain food stimuli were associated with "stomach trouble" in two different restaurants (contexts). On the first day, critical stimuli were associated with stomach trouble in context A (acquisition phase). On the second day, these associations were extinguished in context B. Directly after extinction, participants were either exposed to a stressor (socially evaluated cold pressor test; n = 22) or a control condition (n = 24). On the third day, we tested retrieval of critical associations in contexts A and B. Participants exposed to stress after extinction exhibited a reduced recovery of responding at test in context B, suggesting that stress may context-dependently enhance the consolidation of extinction memory. Furthermore, the increase in cortisol in response to the stressor was negatively correlated with the recovery of responding in context A. Our findings suggest that in parallel to the known effects of stress on the consolidation of episodic memory, stress also enhances the consolidation of extinction memory, which might be relevant for potential applications in extinction-based psychotherapy.
Clinical and experimental evidence document that inflammation and increased peripheral cytokine levels are associated with depression-like symptoms and neuropsychological disturbances in humans. However, it remains unclear whether and to what extent cognitive functions like memory and attention are affected by and related to the dose of the inflammatory stimulus. Thus, in a cross-over, double-blind, experimental approach, healthy male volunteers were administered with either placebo or bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) at doses of 0.4 (n?=?18) or 0.8 ng/kg of body weight (n?=?16). Pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, norephinephrine and cortisol concentrations were analyzed before and 1, 1.75, 3, 4, 6, and 24 h after injection. In addition, changes in mood and anxiety levels were determined together with working memory (n-back task) and long term memory performance (recall of emotional and neutral pictures of the International Affective Picture System). Endotoxin administration caused a profound transient physiological response with dose-related elevations in body temperature and heart rate, increases in plasma interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-? and IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), salivary and plasma cortisol, and plasma norepinephrine. These changes were accompanied by dose-related decreased mood and increased anxiety levels. LPS administration did not affect accuracy in working memory performance but improved reaction time in the high-dose LPS condition compared to the control conditon. In contrast, long-term memory performance was impaired selectively for emotional stimuli after administration of the lower but not of the higher dose of LPS. These data suggest the existence of at least two counter-acting mechanisms, one promoting and one inhibiting cognitive performance during acute systemic inflammation.
This functional magnetic resonance imaging study analysed the behavioural and neural responses during expectation-mediated placebo analgesia in a rectal pain model in healthy subjects. In N=36 healthy subjects, the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response during cued anticipation and painful rectal stimulation was measured. Using a within-subject design, placebo analgesia was induced by changing expectations regarding the probability of receiving an analgesic drug to 0%, 50%, and 100%. Placebo responders were identified by median split based on pain reduction (0% to 100% conditions), and changes in neural activation correlating with pain reduction in the 0% and 100% conditions were assessed in a regions-of-interest analysis. Expectation of pain relief resulted in overall reductions in pain and urge to defecate, and this response was significantly more pronounced in responders. Within responders, pain reduction correlated with reduced activation of dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices, somatosensory cortex, and thalamus during cued anticipation (paired t tests on the contrast 0%>100%); during painful stimulation, pain reduction correlated with reduced activation of the thalamus. Compared with nonresponders, responders demonstrated greater placebo-induced decreases in activation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during anticipation and in somatosensory cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and thalamus during pain. In conclusion, the expectation of pain relief can substantially change perceived painfulness of visceral stimuli, which is associated with activity changes in the thalamus, prefrontal, and somatosensory cortices. Placebo analgesia constitutes a paradigm to elucidate psychological components of the pain response relevant to the pathophysiology and treatment of chronic abdominal pain.
Immunological responses to bacterial endotoxin can be behaviorally conditioned in rodents. However, it is unclear whether an acute systemic inflammatory response can be behaviorally conditioned in humans. Thus, in a double-blind placebo-controlled study, 20 healthy, male subjects received either a single injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or saline together with a novel tasting beverage (conditioned stimulus, CS). Five days later, all subjects received a saline injection and were re-exposed to the CS. Blood was drawn prior to as well as 0.5, 1.5, 3, 4, 6, and 24 h after LPS administration or CS re-exposure. Endotoxin administration led to transient increases in plasma concentrations of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-? and to a significant rise in body temperature. Sole presentation of the CS during evocation did induce neither alterations in body temperature nor changes in plasma cytokine levels. However, subjects in the experimental group rated the smell of the CS significantly more aversive compared to the control group. Employing endotoxin as a US in a single trial taste-immune conditioning paradigm in humans shows a behaviorally conditioned smell aversion but no learned alterations in cytokine levels.
Current placebo research postulates that conditioning processes are one of the major mechanisms of the placebo response. Behaviourally conditioned changes in peripheral immune functions have been demonstrated in experimental animals, healthy subjects and patients. The physiological mechanisms responsible for this learned immune response are not yet fully understood, but some relevant afferent and efferent pathways in the communication between the brain and the peripheral immune system have been identified. In addition, possible benefits and applicability in clinical settings have been demonstrated where behaviourally conditioned immunosuppression attenuated the exacerbation of autoimmune diseases, prolonged allograft survival and affected allergic responses. Here, we summarize data describing the mechanisms and the potential clinical benefit of behaviourally conditioned immune functions, with particular focus on learned placebo effects on allergic reactions.
Akin to other physiological responses, the immune system can be modified, via Pavlovian or behavioral conditioning. It is unknown, however, whether and to what extent learned immune responses can be repeatedly recalled over time. Here we demonstrate in both rats and humans that repeated contingent pairing of a novel taste (conditioned stimulus, CS) together with the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporine A as unconditioned stimulus (US) leads to the acquisition of a learned immunosuppression. Sole presentation of the CS caused a significant inhibition of interleukin (IL)-2 and interferon (IFN)-? production by rat splenic T cells and human peripheral T lymphocytes, closely mimicking the effect of the drug. More importantly, a comparable suppression of cytokine production was also observed after a second, unreinforced exposure to the CS that was separated from the first evocation by an interval of 6 (rats) or 11 (humans)days, respectively. Together, our findings demonstrate that a learned immunosuppression can be repeatedly recalled in both animals and humans, which is an important prerequisite for the implementation of conditioning paradigms as supportive therapy.
The amygdala, a group of nuclei located in the medial temporal lobe, is a key limbic structure involved in mood regulation, associative learning, and modulation of cognitive functions. Functional neuroanatomical studies suggest that this brain region plays also an important role in the central integration of afferent signals from the peripheral immune system. In the present study, intracerebral electroencephalography and microdialysis were employed to investigate the electrophysiological and neurochemical consequences of systemic immune activation in the amygdala of freely moving rats. Intraperitoneal administration of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (100 ?g/kg) induced with a latency of about 2 h a significant increase in amygdaloid neuronal activity and a substantial rise in extracellular noradrenaline levels. Activated neurons in the amygdaloid complex, identified by c-Fos immunohistochemistry, were mainly located in the central nucleus and, to a lesser extent, in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala. Gene expression analysis in micropunches of the amygdala revealed that endotoxin administration induced a strong time-dependent increase in IL-1?, IL-6, and TNF-? mRNA levels indicating that these cytokines are de novo synthesized in the amygdala in response to peripheral immune activation. The changes in amygdaloid activity were timely related to an increase in anxiety-like behavior and decreased locomotor activity and exploration in the open-field. Taken together, these data give novel insights into different features of the acute amygdaloid response during experimental inflammation and provides further evidence that the amygdala integrates immune-derived information to coordinate behavioral and autonomic responses.
Epinephrine (EPI) contributes to hyperalgesia in inflammatory and stress conditions. EPI signals via adrenoceptors, which are regulated by G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2). We previously reported that GRK2 is decreased in nociceptors during chronic inflammation. Herein, we investigated whether GRK2 modulates EPI-induced mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia by using GRK2(+/-) mice, which express 50% of the GRK2 protein. We demonstrate for the first time that EPI-induced mechanical as well as thermal hyperalgesia is prolonged to approximately 21 days in GRK2(+/-) mice, whereas it lasts only 3 to 4 days in wild-type mice. Using cell- specific GRK2-deficient mice, we further show that a low level of GRK2 in primary sensory neurons is critical for this prolongation of EPI-induced hyperalgesia. Low GRK2 in microglia had only a small effect on EPI-induced hyperalgesia. Low GRK2 in astrocytes did not alter EPI-induced hyperalgesia. EPI-induced hyperalgesia was prolonged similarly in mice with tamoxifen-induced homozygous or heterozygous deletion of GRK2. In terms of EPI signalling pathways, the protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor H-89 inhibited EPI-induced mechanical hyperalgesia in wild-type mice, whereas H-89 had no effect in mice with low GRK2 in sensory neurons (SNS-GRK2(+/-) mice). Conversely, intraplantar injection of the protein kinase C? PKC? inhibitor TAT-PKC(?v1-2) inhibited hyperalgesia in sensory neuron specific (SNS)-GRK2(+/-) mice and not in wild-type mice. These results indicate that low GRK2 in primary sensory neurons switches EPI-induced signalling from a protein kinase A-dependent toward a PKC?-dependent pathway that ultimately mediates prolonged EPI-induced hyperalgesia.
It has been shown that stress affects episodic memory in general, but knowledge about stress effects on memory control processes such as directed forgetting is sparse. Whereas in previous studies item-method directed forgetting was found to be altered in post-traumatic stress disorder patients and abolished for highly arousing negative pictorial stimuli in students, no study so far has investigated the effects of experimentally induced psycho-social stress on this task or examined the role of positive picture stimuli. In the present study, 41 participants performed an item-method directed forgetting experiment while being exposed either to a psychosocial laboratory stressor, the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), or a cognitively challenging but non-stressful control condition. Neutral and positive pictures were presented as stimuli. As predicted, salivary cortisol level as a biological marker of the human stress response increased only in the TSST group. Still, both groups showed directed forgetting. However, emotional content of the employed stimuli affected memory control: Directed forgetting was intact for neutral pictures whereas it was attenuated for positive ones. This attenuation was primarily due to selective rehearsal improving discrimination accuracy for neutral, but not positive, to-be-remembered items. Results suggest that acute experimentally induced stress does not alter item-method directed forgetting while emotional stimulus content does.
Physiological studies of placebo-mediated suggestion have been recently performed beyond their traditional clinical context of pain and analgesia. Various neurotransmitter systems and immunological modulators have been used in successful placebo suggestions, including Dopamine, Cholecystokinin and, most extensively, opioids. We adhered to an established conceptual framework of placebo research and used the ?-opioid-antagonist Naloxone to test the applicability of this framework within a cognitive domain (e.g. memory) in healthy volunteers. Healthy men (n=62, age 29, SD=9) were required to perform a task-battery, including standardized and custom-designed memory tasks, to test short-term recall and delayed recognition. Tasks were performed twice, before and after intravenous injection of either NaCl (0.9%) or Naloxone (both 0.15 mg/kg), in a double-blind setting. While one group was given neutral information (S-), the other was told that it might receive a drug with suspected memory-boosting properties (S+). Objective and subjective indexes of memory performance and salivary cortisol (as a stress marker) were recorded during both runs and differences between groups were assessed. Short-term memory recall, but not delayed recognition, was objectively increased after placebo-mediated suggestion in the NaCl-group. Naloxone specifically blocked the suggestion effect without interfering with memory performance. These results were not affected when changes in salivary cortisol levels were considered. No reaction time changes, recorded to uncover unspecific attentional impairment, were seen. Placebo-mediated suggestion produced a training-independent, objective and Naloxone-sensitive increase in memory performance. These results indicate an opioid-mediated placebo effect within a circumscribed cognitive domain in healthy volunteers.
Immune-to-brain communication is essential for an individual to aptly respond to challenging internal and external environments. However, the specificity by which the central nervous system detects or senses peripheral immune challenges is still poorly understood. In contrast to post-mortem c-Fos mapping, we recorded neural activity in vivo in two specific cortico-limbic regions relevant for processing visceral inputs and associating it with other sensory signalling, the amygdala (Am) and the insular cortex (IC). Adult rats were implanted with deep-brain monopolar electrodes and electrical activity was monitored unilaterally before and after administration of two different immunogens, the T-cell-independent antigen lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or the T-cell-dependent antigen staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB). In addition, the neural activity of the same individuals was analysed after single as well as repeated antigen administration, the latter inducing attenuation of the immune response. Body temperature and circulating cytokine levels confirmed the biological activity of the antigens and the success of immunization and desensitization protocols. More importantly, the present data demonstrate that neural activity of the Am and IC is not only specific for the type of immune challenge (LPS versus SEB) but seems to be also sensitive to the different immune state (naive versus desensitization). This indicates that the forebrain expresses specific patterns of electrical activity related to the type of peripheral immune activation as well as to the intensity of the stimulation, substantiating associative learning paradigms employing antigens as unconditioned stimuli. Overall, our data support the view of an intensive immune-to-brain communication, which may have evolved to achieve the complex energetic balance necessary for mounting effective immunity and improved individual adaptability by cognitive functions.
In patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), pain amplification and hypervigilance might result from altered affective-motivational modulation of the pain response. We investigated the effects of emotional context on the behavioral and neural response to visceral stimuli in IBS patients.
Systemic immune activation occurring together with release of peripheral cytokines can affect behavior and the functioning of the central nervous system (CNS). However, it remains unknown whether and to what extent cognitive functions like memory and attention are affected during transient immune activation. We employed a human endotoxemia model and standardized neuropsychological tests to assess the cognitive effects of an experimental inflammation in two groups of 12 healthy young men before and after intravenous injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS, Escherichia coli, 0.4 ng/kg) or physiological saline. Endotoxin administration caused a profound transient physiological response with elevations in body temperature, number of circulating neutrophils, and increases in plasma cytokine levels [interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-?], and concentrations of norepinephrine, ACTH and cortisol. However, these changes in immune and neuroendocrine parameters were not associated with alterations of memory performance, selective attention or executive functions.
To investigate associations between active and passive coping, psychiatric symptoms of depression and anxiety, and quality of life in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). To assess the relative contribution of these coping strategies to reduced quality of life in an attempt to clarify the possible relevance of coping for impaired psychosocial well-being in PCOS.
The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is able to modulate immune functions via adrenoceptor-dependent mechanisms. Activation of ??-adrenergic receptors (AR) on CD4(+) T lymphocytes has been shown to inhibit Th1-cytokine production and cell proliferation. Here, we investigated the role of the calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein phosphatase calcineurin (CaN), a key element of the T cell receptor (TCR)-signaling pathway, in ??-AR-mediated suppression of T cell function. Purified rat splenic CD4(+) T cells were stimulated with anti-CD3/anti-CD28 in presence or absence of the ??-AR agonist terbutaline (TERB). Treatment with TERB induced a dose-dependent inhibition of cellular CaN activity, along with a reduction in IL-2 and IFN-? production, and T cell proliferation. Co-administration of the ?-AR antagonist nadolol abolished these effects. Blockade of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) with the inhibitor H-89 completely prevented TERB-induced CaN inhibition. However, a receptor-independent rise in the second messenger cAMP was not sufficient to suppress CaN activity. Disruption of the interaction between PKA and A-kinase anchoring protein (AKAP) by the inhibitor peptide St-Ht31 fully blocked TERB-induced CaN inhibition, demonstrating that PKA-AKAP interaction is essential for the ??-AR-mediated CaN inhibition. Taken together, this study provides evidence for a link between the ??-AR and TCR signaling pathways since expression of IL-2 and IFN-? in activated T cells largely depends on dephosphorylation of the transcription factor NFAT by CaN, and identifies a novel intracellular mechanism that can lead to downregulation of T cell function after SNS activation.
Expectations and beliefs modulate the experience of pain, which is particularly evident in placebo analgesia. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) has been associated with pain regulation and with the generation, maintenance and manipulation of cognitive representations, consistent with its role in expectation. In a heat-pain paradigm, we employed non-invasive low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to transiently disrupt left and right DLPFC function or used the TMS device itself as a placebo, before applying an expectation-induced placebo analgesia. The results demonstrated that placebo significantly increased pain threshold and pain tolerance. While rTMS did not affect pain experience, it completely blocked placebo analgesia. These findings suggest that expectation-induced placebo analgesia is mediated by symmetric prefrontal cortex function.
The ability to associate physiological changes with a specific flavor was most likely acquired during evolution as an adaptive strategy aimed at protecting the organism while preparing it for danger. The behaviorally conditioned or learned immune response is an exquisite example of the bidirectional communication between the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral immune system. How is it possible that specific immuno-modulating properties of a drug or substance (unconditioned stimulus) can be re-enlisted just by the mere re-exposure to a particular taste, odor or environment (conditioned stimulus)? To answer this key question, we review the neurobiological mechanism mediating this type of associative learning, as well as the pathways and mechanisms employed by the brain to harness the immune system during the execution of the conditioned immune response. Finally, we focus on the potential therapeutic relevance of such learned immune responses, and their re-conceptualization within the framework of "learned placebo effects".
Pavlovian conditioning is one of the major neurobiological mechanisms of placebo effects, potentially influencing the course of specific diseases and the response to a pharmacological therapy, such as immunosuppression. In our study with behaviorally conditioned rats, a relevant taste (0.2% saccharin) preceded the application of the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporin A (CsA), a specific calcineurin (CaN) inhibitor. Our results demonstrate that through pavlovian conditioning the particular pharmacological properties of CsA can be transferred to a neutral taste, i.e., CaN activity was inhibited in splenocytes from conditioned rats after reexposure to the gustatory stimulus. Concomitant immune consequences were observed on ex vivo mitogenic challenge (anti-CD3). Particularly, Th1-cytokine, but not Th2-cytokine, production and cell proliferation were impeded. Appropriate pharmacological and behavioral controls certify that all these changes in T-lymphocyte reactivity are attributable to mere taste reexposure. Furthermore, the underlying sympathetic-lymphocyte interaction was revealed modeling the conditioned response in vitro. CaN activity in CD4(+) T lymphocytes is reduced by beta-adrenergic stimulation (terbutaline), with these effects antagonized by the beta-adrenoreceptor antagonist nadolol. In summary, CaN was identified as the intracellular target for inducing conditioned immunosuppression by CsA, contributing to our understanding of the intracellular mechanisms behind "learned placebo effects."
Post-inflammatory pain is a poorly understood phenomenon. G protein-coupled receptors are involved in regulating pain signaling in the context of inflammation. G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRK) modulate signaling through these receptors. We investigated whether GRK6 contributes to post-inflammatory visceral hyperalgesia. Colitis was induced in female mice by 1% dextran sodium sulphate in drinking water for 7 days. Disease score, colon length, and colonic cytokines were determined. On day 49, when animals had recovered from colitis, we induced visceral pain by intracolonic capsaicin instillation. Behavioral responses to capsaicin were monitored for 20 min. Referred hyperalgesia was measured using von Frey hairs. Spinal cord c-Fos was visualized by immunohistochemistry. In contrast to our earlier observations in male GRK6-/- and wild type (WT) mice, we did not detect differences in the course of colitis or in expression of colonic cytokines between female GRK6-/- and WT mice. After recovery from colitis, capsaicin-induced behavioral pain responses and spinal cord c-Fos expression were more pronounced in female GRK6-/- than WT mice. Naive GRK6-/- and WT animals did not differ in pain and c-Fos responses to capsaicin. Capsaicin-induced referred hyperalgesia post-colitis was increased in GRK6-/- compared to WT mice. However, referred hyperalgesia post-colitis was not affected by ablation of GRK6. Furthermore, in vitro IL-1beta sensitized the capsaicin receptor TRPV1 and this process was inhibited by over-expression of GRK6. We describe the novel concept that GRK6 inhibits post-inflammatory visceral hyperalgesia but does not contribute to visceral pain in naive animals. We propose that GRK6 regulates inflammation-induced sensitization of TRPV1.
Dysfunction of the central dopaminergic system is associated with neurodegenerative disorders and mental illnesses such as Parkinsons disease and schizophrenia. Patients suffering from these diseases were reported to exhibit altered immune functions compared to healthy subjects and imbalance of the central dopaminergic system has been suggested as one causative factor for the immune disturbances. However, it is unclear whether the observed immune changes are primary or secondary to the disease. Here we demonstrate that central dopamine (DA) depletion in a rat model of Parkinsons disease induced transient changes in blood leukocyte distribution and cytokine production that were apparent until four weeks after bilateral intrastriatal administration of the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). Eight weeks after treatment, no differences in blood immune parameters were anymore evident between neurotoxin-treated and control animals. Nevertheless, animals with a widespread damage of dopaminergic neurons in the nigrostriatal system showed an exacerbated pro-inflammatory response following in vivo challenge with bacterial lipopolysaccharide. Our data indicate that peripheral immune perturbations in the early phase after intrastriatal 6-OHDA administration might have been related to the neurodegenerative process itself whereas the increased sensitivity to the inflammatory stimulus seems to have resulted from an impaired dopaminergic control of prolactin (PRL) and corticosterone (CORT) secretion. The findings demonstrate that the brain dopaminergic system is involved in peripheral immune regulation and suggest that central dopaminergic hypoactivity bears the risk of excessive inflammation, e.g., during infection or tissue injury.
Placebo responses are primarily mediated via two neuropsychological mechanisms: patients expectation towards the benefit of a treatment and associative learning processes. Immune functions, like other physiological responses, can be modulated through behavioral conditioning. However, it is unknown whether learned immune responses are affected by the number of re-expositions to the conditioned stimulus (CS) during evocation. Moreover, it is unclear whether immune functions can also be modulated through mere verbally induced expectation. In the experiments reported here, we investigated in healthy male volunteers with an established model of learned immunosuppression whether a single re-exposition to the CS is able to induce a behaviorally conditioned immunosuppression. This conditioned immunosuppression is reflected through a significantly decreased interleukin (IL)-2 production by anti-CD3 stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Our data revealed that in contrast to four CS re-expositions (control group n = 15; experimental group n = 17), a single CS re-exposition was not sufficient to significantly suppress IL-2 production (control group n = 9, experimental group n = 10). Furthermore, we could demonstrate that mere expectation of taking an immunosuppressant did not cause an immunosuppressive response (n = 8-9 per expectation condition). Together, these findings extend our knowledge about the kinetics and mechanisms of placebo-induced immunosuppression and provide therewith information for designing conditioning protocols, which might be employed as a supportive therapy in clinical settings.
We are familiar with both pleasant and unpleasant psychotropic effects of movements associated with vestibular stimulation. However, there has been no attempt to scientifically explore the impact of different kinds of vestibular stimulation on mood states and biomarkers. A sample of 23 healthy volunteers were subjected to a random sequence of three different passive rotational (yaw, pitch, roll) and translational (heave, sway, surge) vestibular stimulation paradigms using a motion-simulator (hexapod). Mood states were measured by means of questionnaires and visual analog scales. In addition, saliva cortisol and ?-amylase samples were taken. Compared to a subliminal control paradigm all rotational and two translational stimulations produced significant changes in mood states: Yaw rotation was associated with feeling more comfortable, pitch rotation with feeling more alert and energetic, and roll rotation with feeling less comfortable. Heave translation was associated with feeling more alert, less relaxed, and less comfortable and surge translation with feeling more alert. Biomarkers were not affected. In conclusion, we provide first experimental evidence that passive rotational and translational movements may influence mood states on a short-term basis and that the quality of these psychotropic effects may depend on the plane and axis of the respective movements.
For secondary adrenal insufficiency (SAI), established biochemical parameters for dosage control are lacking and no optimal substitution dosage and daily distribution have been determined yet. Therefore, in clinical practice, the individual total dose is often adjusted based on patients subjective well-being.
The administration of bacterial endotoxin (i.e., lipopolysaccharide, LPS) constitutes a well-established experimental approach to study the effects of an acute and transient immune activation on physiological, behavioral, and emotional aspects of sickness behavior in animals and healthy humans. However, little is known about possible effects of experimental endotoxemia on pain in humans. This knowledge gap is particularly striking in the context of visceral pain in functional as well as chronic-inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders. Although inflammatory processes have been implicated in the pathophysiology of visceral pain, it remains incompletely understood how inflammatory mediators interact with bottom-up (i.e., increased afferent input) and top-down (i.e., altered central pain processing) mechanisms of visceral hyperalgesia. Considering the recent findings of visceral hyperalgesia after LPS application in humans, in this review, we propose that experimental endotoxemia with its complex peripheral and central effects constitutes an experimental model to study neuroimmune communication in human pain research. We summarize and attempt to integrate relevant animal and human studies concerning neuroimmune communication in visceral and somatic pain, discuss putative mechanisms, and conclude with future research directions.
Behavioral conditioning of immune responses is one of the most impressive examples for the bidirectional communication among the nervous and immune systems. We established a model of behaviorally conditioned immunosuppression employing a conditioned taste aversion (CTA) paradigm in the rat pairing a novel taste (saccharin) as a conditioned stimulus (CS) with the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporine A (CsA) as an unconditioned stimulus (US). By re-presenting the CS during evocation, rats avoid drinking the saccharin. Concomitantly animals display an immunosuppression reflected by an ex vivo reduction in splenic T cell proliferation as well as diminished interleukin-2 and interferon-? production and cytokine mRNA expression, mimicking the actual effect of the US (CsA). Due to the fact that the kinetics of this behaviorally conditioned immunosuppression are completely unknown, extinction of the conditioned response on the behavioral level (CTA) as well as in the immune response needs to be elucidated together with the neural processes mediating the extinction process.
Activated immune cells produce soluble mediators that not only coordinate local and systemic immune responses but also act on the brain to initiate behavioral, neuroendocrine and metabolic adaptations. Earlier studies have shown that the amygdala, a group of nuclei located in the medial temporal lobe, is engaged in the central processing of afferent signals from the peripheral immune system. Here, we compared amygdaloid responses to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB), two prototypic bacterial products that elicit distinct immune responses. Intraperitoneal administration of LPS (0.1 mg/kg) or SEB (1 mg/kg) in adult rats induced substantial increases in amygdaloid neuronal activity as measured by intracerebral electroencephalography and c-fos gene expression. Amygdaloid neuronal activation was accompanied by an increase in anxiety-related behavior in the elevated plus-maze test. However, only treatment with LPS, but not SEB, enhanced amygdaloid IL-1? and TNF-? mRNA expression. This supports the view of the immune system as a sensory organ that recognizes invading pathogens and rapidly relays this information to the brain, independent of the nature of the immune response induced. The observation that neuronal and behavioral responses to peripheral immune challenges are not necessarily accompanied by increased brain cytokine expression suggests that cytokines are not the only factors driving sickness-related responses in the CNS.
Increases in peripheral cytokines during acute inflammation may affect various neuropsychological functions. The aim of this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study was to investigate the effects of acute endotoxemia on mood and the neural response to emotionally aversive visual stimuli in healthy human subjects. In a double-blind, randomized crossover study, 18 healthy males received a bolus injection of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 0.4 ng/kg) or saline. Plasma levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines and cortisol as well as mood ratings were analyzed together with the blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) response during the presentation of aversive versus neutral pictures. Endotoxin administration induced pronounced transient increases in plasma levels of TNF-?, IL-1ra, IL-6, IL-10, and cortisol. Positive mood was decreased and state anxiety increased. In addition, activation of right inferior orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in response to emotional visual stimuli was significantly increased in the LPS condition. Increased prefrontal activation during the presentation of emotional material may reflect enhanced cognitive regulation of emotions as an adaptive response during an acute inflammation. These findings may have implications for the putative role of inflammatory processes in the pathophysiology of depression.
Positive effects on mood have been observed in subjects who underwent treatment of glabellar frown lines with botulinum toxin and, in an open case series, depression remitted or improved after such treatment. Using a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial design we assessed botulinum toxin injection to the glabellar region as an adjunctive treatment of major depression. Thirty patients were randomly assigned to a verum (onabotulinumtoxinA, n = 15) or placebo (saline, n = 15) group. The primary end point was change in the 17-item version of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale six weeks after treatment compared to baseline. The verum and the placebo groups did not differ significantly in any of the collected baseline characteristics. Throughout the sixteen-week follow-up period there was a significant improvement in depressive symptoms in the verum group compared to the placebo group as measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (F((6,168)) = 5.76, p < 0.001, ?(2) = 0.17). Six weeks after a single treatment scores of onabotulinumtoxinA recipients were reduced on average by 47.1% and by 9.2% in placebo-treated participants (F((1,28)) = 12.30, p = 0.002, ?(2) = 0.31, d = 1.28). The effect size was even larger at the end of the study (d = 1.80). Treatment-dependent clinical improvement was also reflected in the Beck Depression Inventory, and in the Clinical Global Impressions Scale. This study shows that a single treatment of the glabellar region with botulinum toxin may shortly accomplish a strong and sustained alleviation of depression in patients, who did not improve sufficiently on previous medication. It supports the concept, that the facial musculature not only expresses, but also regulates mood states.
Prolactin (PRL) is one of the most versatile hormones in the mammalian body, affecting reproductive, sexual and other functions. In rats, mating or vaginocervical stimulation activates a characteristic PRL secretory pattern for several days, which is essential for successful reproduction. Although the underlying mechanisms appear to be different, PRL is also crucial for human fertility. We have detected a PRL increase in women induced by sexual intercourse. Extending these findings, the current study aimed at analyzing the PRL secretory rhythm after sexual contact, in order to elucidate whether human females also show long-term alterations of the PRL secretory pattern.
The molecular mechanisms determining magnitude and duration of inflammatory pain are still unclear. We assessed the contribution of G protein-coupled receptor kinase (GRK)-6 to inflammatory hyperalgesia in mice. We showed that GRK6 is a critical regulator of severity and duration of cytokine-induced hyperalgesia. In GRK6?/? mice, a significantly lower dose (100 times lower) of intraplantar interleukin (IL)-1? was sufficient to induce hyperalgesia compared with wild-type (WT) mice. In addition, IL-1? hyperalgesia lasted much longer in GRK6?/? mice than in WT mice (8 d in GRK6?/? versus 6 h in WT mice). Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-?-induced hyperalgesia was also enhanced and prolonged in GRK6?/? mice. In vitro, IL-1?-induced p38 phosphorylation in GRK6?/? dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons was increased compared with WT neurons. In contrast, IL-1? only induced activation of the phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase/Akt pathway in WT neurons, but not in GRK6?/? neurons. In vivo, p38 inhibition attenuated IL-1?- and TNF-?-induced hyperalgesia in both genotypes. Notably, however, whereas PI 3-kinase inhibition enhanced and prolonged hyperalgesia in WT mice, it did not have any effect in GRK6-deficient mice. The capacity of GRK6 to regulate pain responses was also apparent in carrageenan-induced hyperalgesia, since thermal and mechanical hypersensitivity was significantly prolonged in GRK6?/? mice. Finally, GRK6 expression was reduced in DRGs of mice with chronic neuropathic or inflammatory pain. Collectively, these findings underline the potential role of GRK6 in pathological pain. We propose the novel concept that GRK6 acts as a kinase that constrains neuronal responsiveness to IL-1? and TNF-? and cytokine-induced hyperalgesia via biased cytokine-induced p38 and PI 3-kinase/Akt activation.
Growing evidence suggests that systemic immune activation plays a role in the pathophysiology of pain in functional bowel disorders. By implementing a randomized crossover study with an injection of endotoxin or saline, we aimed to test the hypothesis that endotoxin-induced systemic inflammation increases visceral pain sensitivity in humans. Eleven healthy men (mean ± standard error of the mean age 26.6 ± 1.1 years) received an intravenous injection of either lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 0.4 ng/kg) or saline on 2 otherwise identical study days. Blood samples were collected 15 min before and 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6h after injection to characterize changes in immune parameters including proinflammatory cytokines. Rectal sensory and pain thresholds and subjective pain ratings were assessed with barostat rectal distensions 2h after injection. LPS administration induced an acute inflammatory response indicated by transient increases in tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 6, and body temperature (all P<.001). The LPS-induced immune activation increased sensitivity to rectal distensions as reflected by significantly decreased visceral sensory and pain thresholds (both P<.05) compared to saline control. Visceral stimuli were rated as more unpleasant (P<.05) and inducing increased urge to defecate (P<.01). Pain thresholds correlated with interleukin 6 at +1h (r=0.60, P<.05) and +3h (r=0.67, P<.05) within the LPS condition. This report is novel in that it demonstrates that a transient systemic immune activation results in decreased visceral sensory and pain thresholds and altered subjective pain ratings. Our results support the relevance of inflammatory processes in the pathophysiology of visceral hyperalgesia and underscore the need for studies to further elucidate immune-to-brain communication pathways in gastrointestinal disorders.
Like other physiological responses, immune functions are the subject of behavioural conditioning. Conditioned immunosuppression can be induced by contingently pairing a novel taste with an injection of the immunosuppressant cyclosporine A (CsA) in an associative learning paradigm. This learned immunosuppression is centrally mediated by the insular cortex and the amygdala. However, the afferent mechanisms by which the brain detects CsA are not understood. In this study we analysed whether CsA is sensed via the chemosensitive vagus nerve or whether CsA directly acts on the brain. Our experiments revealed that a single peripheral administration of CsA increases neuronal activity in the insular cortex and the amygdala as evident from increased electric activity, c-Fos expression and amygdaloid noradrenaline release. However, this increased neuronal activity was not affected by prior vagal deafferentation but rather seems to partially be induced by direct action of CsA on cortico-amygdaloid structures and the chemosensitive brainstem regions area postrema and nucleus of the solitary tract. Together, these data indicate that CsA as an unconditioned stimulus may directly act on the brain by a still unknown transduction mechanism.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.