Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Myocardial infarction is the leading cause of death worldwide. Restoration of blood flow rescues myocardium but also causes ischemia-reperfusion injury. Here, we show that in a mouse model of chronic neuropathic pain, ischemia-reperfusion injury following myocardial infarction is reduced, and this cardioprotection is induced via an anterior nucleus of paraventricular thalamus (PVA)-dependent parasympathetic pathway. Pharmacological inhibition of extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation in the PVA abolishes neuropathic pain-induced cardioprotection, whereas activation of PVA neurons pharmacologically, or optogenetic stimulation, is sufficient to induce cardioprotection. Furthermore, neuropathic injury and optogenetic stimulation of PVA neurons reduce the heart rate. These results suggest that the parasympathetic nerve is responsible for this unexpected cardioprotective effect of chronic neuropathic pain in mice.