Effect of Reboxetine Treatment on BDNF, Synaptophysin, and PSD-95 Levels in the Spinal Dorsal Horn of Rats with Diabetic Neuropathy

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CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES, no.4, pp.710-718, 2023 (ESCI) identifier


Objective: It is known that neuropathic pain is accompanied by alterations in the levels of neurotrophic factors and synaptic proteins in the microenvironment of the spinal dorsal horn. Such changes contribute to hyperalgesia and allodynia processes; thus, analgesic drugs can exert their pharmacological effects by affecting the expressions, levels, or functions of these endogenous substances. In this study, based on the knowledge that reboxetine (a selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor) has the potential for antihyperalgesic efficacy in diabetic neuropathy, we aimed to examine the probable effects of this drug on diabetes-induced changes in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), synaptophysin (the pre-synaptic marker of synaptic integration), and postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95) (the postsynaptic marker of synaptic integration) levels in the superficial laminae of the dorsal horn.Methods: Experimental diabetes was induced by a single-dose injection of streptozotocin (STZ) (50 mg/kg) in rats. After four week-long induction period of painful diabetic neuropathy, rats were treated orally with 8 mg/kg reboxetine for two weeks. Hyperalgesia responses were evaluated by using the Randall-Selitto and Hargreave's tests. Following the pain tests, immunohistochemical studies were performed.Results: Two weeks of reboxetine administration increased the reduced paw withdrawal thresholds and shortened the paw withdrawal latencies of diabetic rats in neuropathic pain tests, indicating the antihyperalgesic efficacy of this drug. Moreover, augmented BDNF and synaptophysin levels in diabetic rats reversed by reboxetine treatment. However, there was no alteration in the densities of PSD-95, in both STZ-diabetic and reboxetine-treated STZ-diabetic rats.Conclusion: The obtained results suggested that inhibition of central sensitization and modulation of spinal plasticity seem to be pharmacological mechanisms underlying reboxetine's antihyperalgesic effects on diabetic rats. However, further studies are still needed to clarify the exact mechanism of action.