Results of an animal study published this month in the Journal of Neuroscience found that anti-inflammatory molecules act to prevent the development of pain from nerve injury in young, but not adult, rodents. The findings suggest the presence of a mechanism that may protect young people from developing neuropathic pain. The researchers theorize that an anti-inflammatory response may prevail in the young to protect the developing nervous system from attack by the immune system.
In the study, induced nerve injury raised levels of anti-inflammatory molecules, including the cytokines interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-10, in the spinal cord. Blocking IL-10 in the young unmasked hypersensitivity to touch due to the nerve injury. Clinicians have observed that nerve injuries early in life rarely lead to neuropathic pain syndromes in childhood, unlike injuries suffered in adulthood. The new study suggests that a comparable anti-inflammatory response to injury in children may spare them from developing the hypersensitivities associated with neuropathic pain.
Read a news story on the findings, with link to the journal article, here.