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Inflammatory Renin-Angiotensin System Disruption Attenuates Sensory Hyperinnervation and Mechanical Hypersensitivity in a Rat Model of Provoked Vestibulodynia

Published:November 15, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpain.2017.10.006

      Highlights

      • We developed a tractable rat model of provoked vestibulodynia.
      • The model recapitulates many features of human vestibulodynia.
      • A prominent local inflammatory renin-angiotensin system is present.
      • Blocking angiotensin II receptor type 2 prevents hypersensitivity.
      • Targeting the renin-angiotensin system may yield effective therapies.

      Abstract

      Vestibulodynia is characterized by perivaginal mechanical hypersensitivity, hyperinnervation, and abundant inflammatory cells expressing renin-angiotensin system proteins. We developed a tractable rat model of vestibulodynia to further assess the contributions of the renin-angiotensin system. Complete Freund's adjuvant injected into the posterior vestibule induced marked vestibular hypersensitivity throughout a 7-day test period. Numbers of axons immunoreactive for PGP9.5, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and GFRα2 were increased. Numbers of macrophages and T cells were also increased whereas B cells were not. Renin-angiotensin-associated proteins were abundant, with T cells as well as macrophages contributing to increased renin and angiotensinogen. Media conditioned with inflamed vestibular tissue promoted neurite sprouting by rat dorsal root ganglion neurons in vitro, and this was blocked by the angiotensin II receptor type 2 receptor antagonist PD123319 or by an angiotensin II function blocking antibody. Sensory axon sprouting induced by inflamed tissue was dependent on activity of angiotensin-converting enzyme or chymase, but not cathepsin G. Thus, vestibular Complete Freund's adjuvant injection substantially recapitulates changes seen in patients with provoked vestibulodynia, and shows that manipulation of the local inflammatory renin-angiotensin system may be a useful therapeutic strategy.

      Perspective

      This study provides evidence that inflammation of the rat vestibule induces a phenotype recapitulating behavioral and cytological features of human vestibulodynia. The model confirms a crucial role of the local inflammatory renin-angiotensin system in hypersensitivity and hyperinnervation. Targeting this system holds promise for developing new nonopioid analgesic treatment strategies.

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