Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Dr. Linda Watkins

Second Advisor

Dr. Heidi Day

Third Advisor

Dr. Monika Fleshner

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Peter Grace


Neuropathic pain is a debilitating condition that affects millions of Americans. Despite decades of research, the disease is refractory to current treatments in a substantial population of patients. Recent advances in the understanding of neuropathic pain have led to the targeting of glial cells to better control the condition. Current clinical therapies do not manage the inflammatory response that originates with glial cells and contributes to this affliction. IL-10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine that attenuates the inflammatory response that occurs at the neuroimmune interface in neuropathic pain models. IL-10 gene therapy has alleviated neuropathic pain in a number of animal studies. We tested whether gene therapy increasing the expression of IL-10 and IL-10R1 could attenuate allodynia in a chronic constriction injury (CCI) model of neuropathic pain. Our experiments did not produce reversal of neuropathic pain using the combined gene therapy. However, the CCI surgeries did not produce neuropathic pain in the male mice. While the female mice developed neuropathic pain, the expression of plasmid genes could not be definitively confirmed. Therefore, while the present study did not provide convincing evidence that the combined gene therapy could alleviate neuropathic pain, additional experiments should be performed to further investigate the potential of combined IL-10/IL-10R1 gene therapy for combating neuropathic pain and to investigate the sex differences in the biochemical pathways underlying neuropathic pain.