Brain microglial activation in chronic pain-associated affective disorder

Ellane Eda Barcelon, Woo Hyun Cho, Sang Beom Jun, Sung Joong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


A growing body of evidence from both clinical and animal studies indicates that chronic neuropathic pain is associated with comorbid affective disorders. Spinal cord microglial activation is involved in nerve injury-induced pain hypersensitivity characterizing neuropathic pain. However, there is a lack of thorough assessments of microglial activation in the brain after nerve injury. In the present study, we characterized microglial activation in brain sub-regions of CX3CR1GFP=C mice after chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve, including observations at delayed time points when affective brain dysfunctions such as depressive-like behaviors typically develop. Mice manifested chronic mechanical hypersensitivity immediately after CCI and developed depressive-like behaviors 8 weeks post-injury. Concurrently, significant increases of soma size and microglial cell number were observed in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), hippocampus, and amygdala 8 weeks post-injury. Transcripts of CD11b, and TNF-a, genes associated with microglial activation or depressive-like behaviors, are correspondingly upregulated in these brain areas. Our results demonstrate that microglia are activated in specific brain sub-regions after CCI at delayed time points and imply that brain microglial activation plays a role in chronic pain-associated affective disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number213
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Samsung Science & Technology Foundation (SSTF-BA1502-13) and W-HC was supported with postdoctoral fellowship from the National Research Foundation (NRF-2016R1A6A3A11931502).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Barcelon, Cho, Jun and Lee.


  • Brain microglia
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Microglial activation
  • TNF-a


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