Intense Acute Swimming Induces Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness Dependent on Spinal Cord Neuroinflammation

Sergio M. Borghi, Sylvia K.D. Bussulo, Felipe A. Pinho-Ribeiro, Victor Fattori, Thacyana T. Carvalho, Fernanda S. Rasquel-Oliveira, Tiago H. Zaninelli, Camila R. Ferraz, Antônio M.B. Casella, Fernando Q. Cunha, Thiago M. Cunha, Rubia Casagrande, Waldiceu A. Verri

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11 Scopus citations


Unaccustomed exercise involving eccentric contractions, high intensity, or long duration are recognized to induce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Myocyte damage and inflammation in affected peripheral tissues contribute to sensitize muscle nociceptors leading to muscle pain. However, despite the essential role of the spinal cord in the regulation of pain, spinal cord neuroinflammatory mechanisms in intense swimming-induced DOMS remain to be investigated. We hypothesized that spinal cord neuroinflammation contributes to DOMS. C57BL/6 mice swam for 2 h to induce DOMS, and nociceptive spinal cord mechanisms were evaluated. DOMS triggered the activation of astrocytes and microglia in the spinal cord 24 h after exercise compared to the sham group. DOMS and DOMS-induced spinal cord nuclear factor κB (NFκB) activation were reduced by intrathecal treatments with glial inhibitors (fluorocitrate, α-aminoadipate, and minocycline) and NFκB inhibitor [pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate (PDTC)]. Moreover, DOMS was also reduced by intrathecal treatments targeting C-X3-C motif chemokine ligand 1 (CX3CL1), tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and interleukin (IL)-1β or with recombinant IL-10. In agreement, DOMS induced the mRNA and protein expressions of CX3CR1, TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-10, c-Fos, and oxidative stress in the spinal cord. All these immune and cellular alterations triggered by DOMS were amenable by intrathecal treatments with glial and NFκB inhibitors. These results support a role for spinal cord glial cells, via NFκB, cytokines/chemokines, and oxidative stress, in DOMS. Thus, unveiling neuroinflammatory mechanisms by which unaccustomed exercise induces central sensitization and consequently DOMS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number734091
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
StatePublished - Jan 7 2022


  • acute exercise
  • delayed-onset muscle soreness
  • glial cells
  • neuroinflammation
  • spinal cord


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