Cytokines and Neuropathic Pain in Syringomyelia


Grant Recipient: Joshua Adler, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology, Wayne State University

Dates: October 1, 2002 September 30, 2003

Grant Amount: $50,000

Dr. Adler proposed using an animal model to investigate the role of cytokines in neuropathic pain associated with syringomyelia. According to Online Medical Dictionary, a cytokine is a protein released by cells of the immune system that acts as a mediator in the generation of an immune response. Dr. Adler hypothesized that neuropathic pain in syringomyelia is mediated by cytokines, which either increase, or cause abnormal distribution of, pain-associated peptides. In fact, Dr. Adler’s preliminary data suggested that one cytokine, interleukin-1, leads to an increase in substance P. Substance P has been associated with central pain, and abnormal distribution of substance P has been found post-mortem in people with syringomyelia.

Specifically, Dr. Adlers study involved creating syringomyelia in rats through chemical injection. Once he verified that the rats were showing signs of neuropathic pain, he examined them for increased levels of interleukin-1, substance P and several other substances.

Dr. Adler advanced his work on the use of cytokines (a naturally occurring protein) to regulate neuropathic pain in rats with induced syringomyelia, an alternate approach to cell transplant. Dr. Adler will use these results in applying for a larger grant from the NIH. This is in keeping with ASAPs strategy to seed promising research with the hope that it transitions after one to two years to larger funding sources.

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