Treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine exerts a neuroprotective effect in the sciatic nerve following loose ligation: a functional and microanatomical study.
Peripheral neuropathies are chronic painful syndromes characterized by allodynia, hyperalgesia and altered nerve functionality. Nerve tissue degeneration represents the microanatomical correlate of peripheral neuropathies. Aimed to improve the therapeutic possibilities, this study investigated the hypersensitivity and the neuromorphological alterations related to the loose ligation of the sciatic nerve in rats. Effects elicited by treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) in comparison to gabapentin were assessed. Axonal injury, reduction of myelin deposition and accumulation of inflammatory cells were detected in damaged nerve. A decrease of phosphorylated 200-kDa neurofilament (NFP) immunoreactivity and a redistribution in small clusters of myelin basic like-protein (MBP) were observed in ipsilateral nerves. Treatment with ALCAR (100 mg/kg intraperitoneally - i.p.) and gabapentin (70 mg/kg i.p.) administered bis in die for 14 days induced a significant pain relieving effect. ALCAR, but not gabapentin, significantly countered neuromorphological changes and increased axonal NFP immunoreactivity. These findings indicate that both ALCAR and gabapentin significantly decreased the hypersensitivity related to neuropathic lesions. The observation of the positive ALCAR effect on axonal and myelin sheath alterations in damaged nerve supports its use as neurorestorative agent against neuropathies through mechanism(s) consistent to those focused in this study.