Patients affected by stroke, particularly subacute stroke patients, often complain of neuropathic pain (NP), which may severely impair their quality of life. The aim of this exploratory study was to characterize NP and to investigate whether there is a correlation between NP and serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and serum markers of oxidative stress. We enrolled 50 patients divided in subacute (< 90 days from stroke onset) and chronic (> 90 and 180 < days from stroke onset). The Barthel Index, Deambulation Index, and Short Form 36 were used to assess the patients' degree of disability and quality of life. Pain-specific tools, namely the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS), Neuropathic Pain Diagnostic questionnaire (DN4), and Neuropathic Pain Symptom Inventory (NPSI), were also used. Serum levels of BDNF and markers of oxidative stress and of metal status were evaluated: copper, iron, transferrin, ferritin, ceruloplasmin concentration (iCp) and activity (eCp), Total Antioxidant status (TAS), Cp/Tf ratio, eCp/iCp ratio, and non-ceruloplasmin bound copper (Non-Cp Cu). We found the highest value of BDNF in subacute with NP (DN4 score ≥ 4). The TAS, Cp/Tf ratio, and eCp/iCp not only fell outside the normal reference range in a high percentage of subacute and chronic patients, but were also found to be related to specific NP symptoms. These preliminary results reveal altered BDNF and oxidative stress indices in subacute stroke patients who complain of NP. These investigative findings may shed more light on the mechanisms underlying NP and consequently lead to a more tailored therapeutic and/or rehabilitation procedure of subacute stroke patients.
- Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
- Ceruloplasmin-specific activity
- Chronic stroke
- Cp/Tf ratio
- Neuropathic pain
- Subacute stroke
- Total antioxidant status