Intervertebral disc degeneration-induced expression of pain-related molecules: Glial cell-derived neurotropic factor as a key factor

Woon Won Jung, Hyun Sook Kim, Jong Ryeul Shon, Min Lee, Sang Heon Lee, Donggeun Sul, Heung Sik Na, Joo Han Kim, Byung Jo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Discogenic low back pain has been shown to develop into chronic intractable pain due to an unknown pathogenesis. To study the mechanism of discogenic pain, we analyzed the serial expression of pain-related molecules in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and thalamus using a newly developed rat model of disc degeneration. METHODS: Ten microliters of complete Freund's adjuvant was injected into the L5-6 disc of male Sprague-Dawley rats for 10 minutes using a 26-gauge needle. Using a behavioral test, rats with significant pain were selected and subsequently serial gene expression of pain-related molecules in the DRG and the thalamus was analyzed by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: The expression of tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β significantly increased at 4 and 8 weeks in the DRG of rats with pain. Furthermore, interleukin-6 was significantly increased at 4 weeks in the DRG; however, these cytokines did not show a significant change in the thalamus. Calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P were significantly increased in DRG at 4 and 8 weeks and in the thalamus at 2 and 4 weeks. The level of nerve growth factor-β did not significantly increase in the DRG or thalamus, whereas glial cell line-derived neurotropic factor (GDNF) was significantly increased at 2 weeks and was sustained through 8 weeks in both the DRG and thalamus. CONCLUSIONS: The disc degeneration rat model described herein led to significant pain of a chronic nature. The gradual and persistent increase of GDNF in both the thalamus and DRG suggests that GDNF might be a key factor in the development of intractable, chronic discogenic pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-334
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Oct


  • disc degeneration rat model
  • discogenic pain
  • glial cell-derived neurotropic factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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