Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Tom Rouwette (Donders Series 91)

June 22, 2012.

Promotors: Prof. dr. K.C.P. Vissers, Prof. dr. E.W. Roubos
Copromotors: dr. T.L. Kozicz, dr. W.J.J.M. Scheenen

Neuropathic Pain and the Brain: Differential involvement of corticotropin-releasing factor and urocortin 1 in acute and chronic pain processing

Chronic neuropathic pain is caused by damage or disease of the central and/or peripheral somatosensory nervous system. It affects many millions of people, causing behavioural disorders like anxiety and depression. Due to a lack of knowledge of the underlying neuronal mechanisms, its treatment is largely symptom-based. From this research, using animal models, it appears that the brain plays an important role in processing neuropathic pain signals from the periphery, with members of the corticotropin-releasing peptide family as key players. In acute ‘normal’ pain the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis and the Edinger-Westphal centrally projecting nucleus are activated and exert a rapid adaptation response, whereas in chronic neuropathic pain the limbic system is involved, regulating the above-mentioned mood changes. The research results may contribute to the development of novel, target-specific therapeutics that prevent or treat chronic neuropathy.