Interaction between neurons in different laminae of the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. A correlation study in normal and neuropathic rats.

Istituto di Neuroscienze e Bioimmagini, CNR Milano, Segrate (MI), Italy.
European Journal of Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 3.75). 06/1997; 9(5):1017-25. DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.1997.tb01452.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Simultaneous recordings of 135 pairs of units, located respectively in the superficial (I-IIo) and deep (V) laminae of the dorsal horn of the lumbar spinal cord of anaesthetized and paralysed animals, were performed both from normal (62 pairs) and from peripherally injured (chronically constricted sciatic nerve) rats (73 pairs). In each pair, one neuron was classified as nociceptive, responding only to noxious stimuli, and the other as a wide dynamic range neuron, responding to both non-noxious and noxious stimuli. To understand if some interaction was present between diverse neurons modulated by noxious inputs, we used cross-correlation techniques. The responses of simultaneously recorded pairs of units to suprathreshold (5 mA, 0.5 ms) electrical stimuli were used. A clearly delayed peak in the cross-correlograms of recordings from normal animals was present, indicating connectivity of superficial and deep-layer cells. This feature was not present in the cross-correlograms obtained from nerve-injured animals. Even if a specific pathway cannot be explicitly assigned to support these functional results, an overall connection between superficial and deep layers of the spinal cord is suggested. These connections are supposed to be either inactive or rearranged in the nerve-injured rats, thus suppressing a well timed coordinated connectivity. This anomaly could underlie a reduced degree of functional coherence in the modulation of nociceptive spinal inputs in cases of chronic pain.