• Stress;
  • Interleukin-6;
  • Tumor necrosis factor α;
  • Skeletal muscle pain;
  • Hyperalgesia;
  • Endotoxin


Stress exacerbates both experimental and clinical pain, most well-characterized in irritable bowel and fibromyalgia syndromes. Since it has been hypothesized that cytokines play an etiopathogenic role in fibromyalgia and other chronic widespread pain conditions, we investigated the relationship between stress and cytokines in a model of stress-induced chronic somatic pain. A series of experiments were performed to evaluate the impact of stress on the hyperalgesia-induced by endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS) and the role of two pro-inflammatory cytokines, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis α (TNFα). Fourteen days after exposure to a 4-day protocol of unpredictable sound stress, the ability of systemic LPS (100μg/kg, i.p) to elicit cytokine-mediated mechanical hyperalgesia was measured in gastrocnemius muscle. LPS-induced hyperalgesia was significantly greater in stressed rats, but when rats were treated intrathecally with antisense oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN), to decrease either the gp130 subunit of the IL-6 receptor or the TNFα receptor, in nociceptors, skeletal muscle hyperalgesia in sound stressed, but not control, rats was prevented. These data suggest that chronic stress alters signaling in the primary afferent nociceptor for the hyperalgesia induced by endogenously produced pro-inflammatory cytokines.