Glial adaptations within the central nervous system are well known to modulate central sensitization and pain. Recently, it has been suggested that activity of glial-related proinflammatory cytokines may potentiate peripheral inflammation, via central neurogenic processes. However, a role for altered glial function has not yet been investigated in the context of endometriosis, a chronic inflammatory condition in women associated with peripheral lesions, often manifesting with persistent pelvic pain. Using a minimally invasive mouse model of endometriosis, we investigated associations between peripheral endometriosis-like lesions and adaptations in central glial reactivity. Spinal cords (T13-S1) from female C57BL/6 mice with endometriosis-like lesions (ENDO) were imaged via fluorescent immunohistochemistry for the expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP; astrocytes) and CD11b (microglia) in the dorsal horn (n = 5). Heightened variability (P =.02) as well as an overall increase (P =.04) in the mean area of GFAP immunoreactivity was found in ENDO versus saline-injected control animals. Interestingly, spinal levels showing the greatest alterations in GFAP immunoreactivity appeared to correlate with the spatial location of lesions within the abdominopelvic cavity. A subtle but significant increase in the mean area of CD11b immunostaining was also observed in ENDO mice compared to controls (P =.02). This is the first study to describe adaptations in nonneuronal, immune-like cells of the central nervous system attributed to the presence of endometriosis-like lesions.
- neurogenic inflammation