Expansion of formalin-evoked Fos-immunoreactivity in rats with a spinal cord injury

Daniel A. Castellanos, Linda A. Daniels, Mena P. Morales, Aldric T. Hama, Jacqueline Sagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Peripheral tissue injury as well as spinal cord injury (SCI) may lead to sensitization of dorsal horn neurons and alterations in nociceptive processing. Thus, peripheral injuries experienced by SCI patients, even if not initially perceived, could result in a persistent and widespread activation of dorsal horn neurons and emerge as chronic pain with interventive repair or modest recovery from SCI. To visualize the spinal neuron response to peripheral tissue injury following complete SCI in rats, the neural transcription factor Fos was quantitated in the spinal cord. Two weeks following either a complete transection of the spinal cord at the level of T8 or a sham surgery (laminectomy), rats were injected with formalin into the left hind paw. Sham-operated rats demonstrated biphasic hind paw pain-related behavior following formalin injection, but transected rats displayed fewer behaviors in the second (tonic) phase. Stereological analysis of the sham group revealed that the extent of formalin-induced Fos expression was within the lumbar dorsal horn, with numerous Fos-like immunoreactive profiles in the ipsilateral dorsal horn and some contralateral immunoreactive profiles. In contrast, the level of Fos-like immunoreactivity in the transected group was significantly elevated and expanded in range compared to the sham group, with increases observed in the normal laminar distribution regions, as well as multi-segmentally through sacral levels and increases in the contralateral dorsal horn segments. The data demonstrate that widespread activation of spinal, especially dorsal horn, neurons following peripheral insult can occur in the injured spinal cord, despite reduced pain responsiveness, and suggests that exaggerated pain may emerge as spinal recovery or repair progresses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-393
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroscience Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Central pain
  • Dorsal horn
  • Immediate early genes
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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