The present study investigated the expression patterns of glial cells and interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) in the rat spinal cord after a surgical incision, which is closely related with clinical postoperative pain. Microglia and astrocytes became activated in the spinal cord following incision. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunohistochemisty showed that IL-1beta mRNA and protein level in the spinal cord was transiently upregulated after surgical incision. The increased IL-1beta-immunoreactivity (IR) was mainly localized in neurons but not the activated microglia or astrocytes. Although obvious increase in IL-1beta-IR could be observed in the lumbar segments of the spinal cord ipsilateral to a hind paw incision, significant upregulation of IL-1beta was not detected in the lumbar segments following thoracic incision. The present study indicated that surgical incision could induce glial activation and segmental upregulation of IL-1beta in the spinal cord. The activated glial cells and upregulated IL-1beta, in turn, may be involved in the incision-induced pain hypersensitivity.
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