The analgesic effect on chronic pain of peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) has been proven, but its underlying mechanism remains unknown. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the analgesic effect of PNS on bone cancer pain in a rat model and to explore the underlying mechanism.
PNS on sciatic nerves with bipolar electrode was performed in both naïve and bone cancer pain model rats. Then, the protein levels of activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein (Arc), α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid–type glutamate receptor 1 (GluA1), and phosphate N-methyl- d-aspartic acid-type glutamate receptor subunit 2B (pGluNR2B) in spinal cord were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. Thermal paw withdraw latency and mechanical paw withdraw threshold were used to estimate the analgesic effect of PNS on bone cancer pain. Intrathecal administration of Arc shRNA was used to inhibit Arc expression in the spinal cord.
PNS at 60 and 120 Hz for 20 min overtly induced Arc expression in the spinal cord, increased thermal pain thresholds in naïve rats, and relieved bone cancer pain; meanwhile, 10 Hz PNS did not achieve those results. In addition, PNS at 60 and 120 Hz also reduced the expression of GluA1, but not pGluNR2B, in the spinal cord. Finally, the anti-nociceptive effect and GluA1 downregulation induced by PNS were inhibited by intrathecal administration of Arc shRNA.