Changes in Rat Spinal Cord Gene Expression After Inflammatory Hyperalgesia of the Joint and Manual Therapy

Rachel L. Ruhlen, PhD; Vineet K. Singh, PhD; Vanessa K. Pazdernik, MS; Lex C. Towns, PhD; Eric J. Snider, DO; Neil J. Sargentini, PhD; and Brian F. Degenhardt, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: February 5, 2014

Accepted: April 23, 2014

Published: October 1, 2014

J Osteopath Med; 114(10): 768-776

Context: Mobilization of a joint affects local tissue directly but may also have other effects that are mediated through the central nervous system.

Objectives: To identify differential gene expression in the spinal cords of rats with or without inflammatory joint injury after manual therapy or no treatment.

Methods: Rats were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatment groups: no injury and no touch (NI/NT), injury and no touch (I/NT), no injury and manual therapy (NI/MT), and injury and manual therapy (I/MT). We induced acute inflammatory joint injury in the rats by injecting carrageenan into an ankle. Rats in the no-injury groups did not receive carrageenan injection. One day after injury, rats received manual therapy to the knee of the injured limb. Rats in the no-touch groups were anesthetized without receiving manual therapy. Spinal cords were harvested 30 minutes after therapy or no touch, and spinal cord gene expression was analyzed by microarray for 3 comparisons: NI/NT vs I/NT, I/MT vs I/NT, and NI/NT vs NI/MT.

Results: Three rats were assigned to each group. Of 38,875 expressed sequence tags, 755 were differentially expressed in the NI/NT vs I/NT comparison. For the other comparisons, no expressed sequence tags were differentially expressed. Cluster analysis revealed that the differentially expressed sequence tags were over-represented in several categories, including ion homeostasis (enrichment score, 2.29), transmembrane (enrichment score, 1.55), and disulfide bond (enrichment score, 2.04).

Conclusions: An inflammatory injury to the ankle of rats caused differential expression of genes in the spinal cord. Consistent with other studies, genes involved in ion transport were among those affected. However, manual therapy to the knees of injured limbs or to rats without injury did not alter gene expression in the spinal cord. Thus, evidence for central nervous system mediation of manual therapy was not observed.

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