Affective dimensions of pain and region -specific involvement of nitric oxide in the development of empathic hyperalgesia

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Empathy for pain depends on the ability to feel, recognize, comprehend and share painful emotional conditions of others. In this study, we investigated the role of NO in a rat model of empathic pain. Pain was socially transferred from the sibling demonstrator (SD) who experienced five formalin injection to the naïve sibling observer (SO) through observation. SO rats received L-NAME (a nonspecific NO synthase inhibitor) or L-arginine (a precursor of NO) prior to observing the SD. Nociception, and concentrations of NO metabolites (NOx) in the serum, left and right hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum were evaluated. Nociceptive responses were significantly increased in the pain-observing groups. NOx levels measured 24 h after the last pain observation using the Griess method, were indicative of NOx concentration decreases and increases in the left hippocampus and cerebellum, respectively. There was an increase in tissue concentration of NOx in cerebellum and prefrontal cortex in both pain and observer groups 7 days after the fifth formalin injection. Our results suggest that NO is involved in development of empathic hyperalgesia, and observation of sibling's pain can change NO metabolites in different brain regions in observer rats.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)10141
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2020

ID: 243978115