Considerable evidence indicates that there are sex-related differences in clinical and experimental pain sensitivity. In the present study, we sought to determine what genes were expressed in the spinal cord in a sexually dimorphic manner. We first analyzed global gene expression in the lumbar spinal cord of uninjured male and female rats using the Affymetrix RAE230A GeneChip platform in order to identify genes that are selectively expressed in male and female rats at a basal level. We subsequently analyzed global gene expression in the lumbar spinal cord of male and female rats at two time points (7 days and 14 d) following a rodent model of lumbar radiculopathy (L5 nerve root ligation) in order to determine what genes were regulated in a sexually dimorphic manner following nerve root injury. We utilized a linear regression analysis method to identify genes that were significantly different from the corresponding sham surgical controls. The expression patterns of several genes of interest were subsequently confirmed using RT-PCR. Our findings demonstrate significant differences in lumbar spinal cord gene expression in both uninjured and injured (L5 nerve root ligation) male and female rats. Further confirmation of a subset of the genes identified Neuregulin 1 and its high affinity receptor, ErbB4, Tachykinin 1, and Metabotropic glutamate receptor 6 as female specific genes upregulated following L5 nerve root injury. These findings provide several target genes for further study that may elucidate the neurochemical mechanisms underlying sex differences in pain sensitivity and lead to improved treatments for chronic pain syndromes.
View details for DOI 10.1385/JMN/30:03:283
View details for Web of Science ID 000243782200004
View details for PubMedID 17401154