Gonadal hormones may modulate analgesia responses induced by acute stress in humans and rats. To evaluate the effects of gonadal hormones in modifying neuropathic pain, we measured autotomy changes following sciatic nerve resection in ovariectomized rats and in the presence of estrogen replacement. Two groups of female rats were subjected to ovariectomy and sham surgery. Each group was then divided into two subgroups receiving subcutaneously sesame oil with or without estradiol benzoate (5 μg/day/rat). All rats then underwent sciatic nerve resection in one hindlimb. Degree of self-mutilation was measured daily for 8 weeks. Estradiol treatment resulted in significantly lower autotomy scores in ovariectomized rats (3.6 ± 0.6 vs. 5.5 ± 0.3, p < 0.01) and in sham-operated rats (3.4 ± 0.7 vs. 5.1 ± 0.4, p < 0.05). The results of this study indicate that estrogen can modify the autotomy behavior, an indicator of neuropathic pain, in rats after nerve injury.

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