Patients with rheumatoid arthritis experience chronic pain, depression and fatigue, even when inflammation of the joints is well controlled. To study the relationship between arthritis, depression, and sustained pain when articular inflammation is no longer observed, we tested the hypothesis that brain TNF drives post-inflammation depression-like behavior and persistent pain in experimental arthritis. The murine model of antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) was used to evaluate the effects of knee inflammation on sustained pain and depression-like behavior. We measured joint pain using an automated dynamic plantar algesiometer and depression-like behavior with the tail suspension test. Cytokines were measured by Luminex assay and ELISA. TNF in the brain was blocked by intracerebroventricular injection of anti-TNF antibodies. Histological damage and elevated levels of cytokines were observed in the knee 24h after antigen treatment, but not at 13 days. Reduced pain thresholds were seen 24h and 13 days after treatment. Depression-like behavior was observed on day 13. Treatment with the antidepressant imipramine reduced both depression-like behavior and persistent pain. However, blocking joint pain with the analgesic dipyrone did not alter depression-like behavior. Elevated levels of TNF, CCL2, and CXCL-1 were observed in the hippocampus 24h after treatment, with TNF remaining elevated at day 13. Intracerebroventricular infusion of an anti-TNF antibody blocked depression-like behavior and reduced persistent pain. We have demonstrated that depression-like behavior and pain is sustained in AIA mice after the resolution of inflammation. These changes are associated with elevated levels of TNF in the hippocampus and are dependent upon brain TNF. The findings reveal an important mechanistic link between the expression of chronic pain and depression in experimental arthritis. Furthermore, they suggest treating depression in rheumatoid arthritis may positively impact other debilitating features of this condition.
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