Early life administration of vincristine (VNC), commonly used to treat pediatric leukemia, evokes peripheral neuropathy and mechanical pain hypersensitivity in rats that lasts into adolescence. However, the degree to which VNC-evoked neuropathic pain persists throughout adulthood has yet to be examined. It also remains unclear if pediatric VNC exposure can ‘prime’ developing nociceptive pathways and thereby exacerbate chronic pain following subsequent trauma later in life. To address these issues, rats received five total doses of VNC (60 µg/kg; or vehicle) on postnatal days (P) 11, 13, 17, 19 and 21 followed by a hindpaw surgical incision during adulthood. In addition, in order to model the clinical scenario where cancer relapse necessitates another round of chemotherapy, separate groups of rats that had been treated with VNC (or vehicle) as neonates were subsequently administered VNC as adults (five injections at 100 µg/kg). Intraepidermal nerve fiber density and baseline mechanical pain sensitivity were similar between the neonatal VNC and vehicle-treated littermate controls at 13-15 weeks of age, suggesting that the peripheral neuropathy, and resulting chronic pain, had resolved by adulthood. Importantly, there was no significant overall effect of early life VNC on the severity of post-operative pain following adult incision. Similarly, prior VNC exposure did not significantly influence the degree of mechanical pain hypersensitivity produced by adult VNC treatment. Collectively, these findings suggest that early life VNC administration does not increase the susceptibility to develop chronic pain as adults.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.