Pain resulting from metastatic bone disease is a major unmet clinical need. Studying spinal processing in rodent models of cancer pain is desirable since the percept of pain is influenced in part by modulation at the level of the transmission system in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Here, a rodent model of cancer-induced bone pain (CIBP) was generated following syngeneic rat mammary gland adenocarcinoma cell injection in the tibia of male Sprague Dawley rats. Disease progression was classified as "early" or "late" stage according to bone destruction. Even though wakeful CIBP rats showed progressive mechanical hypersensitivity, subsequent in vivo electrophysiological measurement of mechanically evoked deep dorsal horn spinal neuronal responses revealed no change. Rather, a dynamic reorganization of spinal neuronal modulation by descending controls was observed, and this was maladaptive only in the early stage of CIBP. Interestingly, this latter observation corresponded with the degree of damage to the primary afferents innervating the cancerous tissue. Plasticity in the modulation of spinal neuronal activity by descending control pathways reveals a novel opportunity for targeting CIBP in a stage-specific manner. Finally, the data herein have translational potential since the descending control pathways measured are present also in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3286
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2020


  • Cancer-induced bone pain (CIBP)
  • Diffuse noxious inhibitory controls (DNIC)
  • In vivo electrophysiology
  • Mechanical hypersensitivity
  • Neuronal damage
  • Tibial afferents
  • Wide dynamic range neurons


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