Persistent neuropathic pain is a frequent consequence of peripheral nerve injuries, particularly in the elderly. Using the IntelliCage we studied if sciatic nerve injury obstructed learning and memory in young and aged mice, each in wild type and progranulin deficient mice, which develop premature signs of brain aging. Both young and aged mice developed long-term nerve injury-evoked hyperalgesia and allodynia. In both genotypes, aged mice with neuropathic pain showed high error rates in place avoidance acquisition tasks. However, once learnt, these aged mice with neuropathic pain showed a significantly stronger maintenance of the aversive memory. Nerve injury did not affect place preference behavior in neither genotype, neither in young nor aged mice. However, nerve injury in progranulin deficient mice impaired the learning of spatial sequences of awarded places, particularly in the aged mice. This task required a discrimination of clockwise and anti-clockwise sequences. The chaining failure occurred only in progranulin deficient mice after nerve injury, but not in sham operated or wildtype mice, suggesting that progranulin was particularly important for compensatory adaptations after nerve injury. In contrast, all aged mice with neuropathic pain, irrespective of the genotype, had a long maintenance of aversive memory suggesting a negative alliance and possibly mutual aggravation of chronic neuropathic pain and aversive memory at old age.
Albuquerque, B., Häussler, A., Vannoni, E., Wolfer, D. P., & Tegeder, I. (2013). Learning and memory with neuropathic pain: impact of old age and progranulin deficiency. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00174