The objective of the present study was to examine whether milnacipran, a serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor, has an analgesic effect in rats with neuropathic pain. In addition, the c-Fos expression was investigated in the supraspinal sites of the brain and in the spinal dorsal horn in association with the nociceptive processing in rats with neuropathic pain produced by chronic constriction injury (CCI) in the sciatic nerve. In the CCI-induced neuropathic rats, behavioral testing for determining the change in the withdrawal threshold to mechanical stimulation and immunohistochemical detection of c-Fos were both performed. The anti-allodynic effect derived from milnacipran gradually increased over the observation period, indicating that the delayed-onset analgesia might be elicited by the continuous administration of milnacipran. The increased level of c-Fos expression in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) induced by noxious mechanical stimulation was significantly inhibited by the continuous administration of milnacipran, indicating that milnacipran might cause a functional modification in the nociceptive processing in the ACC.
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