Patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) exhibit diverse symptoms, such as neuropathic pain, allodynia, local edema and skin color changes in the affected lesion. Although nerve injury may cause CRPS, pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the syndrome are unclear, and local edema, a characteristic of CRPS, has not been evaluated quantitatively for technical reasons. Here, using a rat spinal nerve ligation-induced CRPS model, we show that edematous changes in gastrocnemius muscle can be detected quantitatively by diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Using the line-scan diffusion spectrum on a 1.5 T clinical MR imager, we demonstrate significant elevation of the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) ratios in gastrocnemius muscle on the ligated versus the sham-operated rats by one day after surgery, those ratios gradually decreased over time. Meanwhile, T2 ratios in gastrocnemius muscle on the ligated rats increased gradually and significantly, peaking two weeks after surgery, and those ratios remained high and were consistent with edema. Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a key regulator of blood vessel formation and function, was significantly lower in gastrocnemius muscle on the ligated versus non-ligated side, suggesting that nerve ligation promotes edematous changes and perturbs VEGF expression in target muscle.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)