• astrocyte;
  • chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2);
  • experimental tooth movement;
  • medullary dorsal horn;
  • nocifensive behavior

To test the hypothesis that the astrocytic chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2) plays an important role in nocifensive behaviors after experimental tooth movement (ETM), the expression and cellular localization of CCL2 and astrocyte activation in the medullary dorsal horn (MDH) were determined by immunohistochemistry in rats. The dose-dependent effects of intrathecal C-C chemokine receptor type 2 (CCR2) antagonists on these changes in nocifensive behaviors were evaluated. Exogenous CCL2 was added to medullary dorsal horn slices to evaluate its contributory role in the induction of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation ex vivo. We found a significant increase in the expression of CCL2 and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), corresponding well to the nocifensive behaviors after ETM. In addition, application of recombinant CCL2 led to ERK activation, which could be attenuated effectively by pretreatment with CCL2-neutralizing antibody ex vivo. The magnitude of the nocifensive behavior could be reduced by medullary CCR2 antagonists in a dose-dependent manner. Therefore, the astrocytic CCL2 is actively involved in the development and maintenance of tooth-movement pain and thus may be a potential target for analgesics in orthodontic nocifensive responses control.