Document Type


Publication Date



Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) results in chronic central nervous system (CNS) deficits and heightened neuroimmune responses that persist into adulthood. Young adult animals with moderate PAE display pathological sensitivity to light touch, referred to as allodynia, following sciatic nerve chronic constriction injury (CCI). Allodynia coincides with activated spinal glia and an increased presence of peripheral immune cells that invade the CNS. Activated glia and immune cells release the potent pro-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-1 (IL-1β). Previous studies have shown that dexpramipexole, an enantiomer of pramipexole, reduces caspase-3 and cell death, suggesting a possible anti-inflammatory action. The current study explored whether dexpramipexole is able to alleviate allodynia via direct intrathecal (i.t.; peri-spinal) application, and whether dexpramipexole can decrease IL-1β protein levels from peripheral immune cells. Long-Evans, 4-mo. male rats exposed prenatally to either saccharin (Sac) as a control or moderate alcohol (PAE) underwent Sham or mild CCI surgery. Hindpaw withdrawal responses to light touch was determined using the von Frey fiber test before and after i.t. dexpramipexole. Separately, splenocytes and cells from the peritoneal cavity (PEC) were collected from Long-Evans male rats, stimulated for 24-hrs with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), or LPS in combination with dexpramipexole followed by IL-1β protein analysis via ELISA assay. The results showed CCI produced clear ipsilateral allodynia in both Sac and PAE rats that was reversed following i.t. dexpramipexole, with maximal effects observed at 60-90 min. While both splenocytes and PEC cells showed increased IL-1β levels after stimulation with LPS, only PEC cells showed reduced IL-1β levels after treatment with dexpramipexole. We demonstrate i.t. dexpramipexole can alleviate allodynia independent of PAE, and that its actions occur at the level of the spinal cord. Furthermore, this is the first demonstration that dexpramipexole acts as a potent anti- inflammatory factor, effectively reducing IL-1β levels from immune-stimulated PEC cells from PAE offspring.


Poster presented at the Brain & Behavioral Health Research Day 2021



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.