Reversal of neuropathic pain is associated with corticostriatal functional reorganization after nerve repair in the spared nerve injury model

Qi Yuan Bao, Pei Ching Chang, Maria Virginia Centeno, Melissa Anne Farmer, Marwan Baliki, Daniel Procissi, Weibin Zhang, A. Vania Apkarian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following surgical repair after peripheral nerve injury, neuropathic pain diminishes in most patients but can persist in a small proportion of cases, the mechanism of which remains poorly understood. Based on the spared nerve injury (SNI), we developed a rat nerve repair (NR) model, where a delayed reconstruction of the SNI-injured nerves resulted in alleviating chronic pain-like behavior only in a subpopulation of rats. Multiple behavioral measures were assayed over 11-week presurgery and postsurgery periods (tactile allodynia, pain prick responses, sucrose preference, motor coordination, and cold allodynia) in SNI (n = 10), sham (n = 8), and NR (n = 12) rats. All rats also underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging under anesthesia at multiple time points postsurgery, and at 10 weeks, histology and retrograde labeling were used to calculate peripheral reinnervation. Behavioral measures indicated that at approximately 5 weeks postsurgery, the NR group separated to pain persisting (NR persisting, n = 5) and recovering (NR recovering, n = 7) groups. Counts of afferent nerves and dorsal root ganglion cells were not different between NR groups. Therefore, NR group differences could not be explained by peripheral reorganization. By contrast, large brain functional connectivity differences were observed between NR groups, where corticolimbic reorganization paralleled with pain recovery (repeated-measures analysis of variance, false discovery rate, P < 0.05), and functional connectivity between accumbens and medial frontal cortex was related both to tactile allodynia (nociception) and to sucrose preference (anhedonia) in the NR group. Our study highlights the importance of brain circuitry in the reversal of neuropathic pain as a natural pain-relieving mechanism. Further studies regarding the therapeutic potentials of these processes are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1929-1938
Number of pages10
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • Corticostriatal
  • Nerve injury
  • Nerve repair
  • Neuropathic pain
  • SNI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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