Molecular mechanisms of pain in the anterior cingulate cortex.
ABSTRACT It is well known that peripheral sensory stimuli, including pain, trigger a series of neuronal activities along the somatosensory pathways as well as the neuronal network in the high brain structures. These neuronal activities not only produce appropriate physiological responses but also induce long-term plastic changes in some of the central synapses. It is believed that long-term synaptic changes help the brain to process and store new information. Such learning is critical for animals and humans to gain new knowledge of changing environment, generate appropriate emotional responses, and avoid dangerous stimuli in the future. In the case of permanent injury, however, the brain fails to distinguish the difference between "useful" and painful stimuli. Long-term synaptic changes work against the system and at least in part contribute to chronic pain. In this short article, the possible molecular mechanisms for long-term plasticity within the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) will be discussed and reviewed, and it is hypothesized that potentiation of excitatory responses within the ACC contributes to chronic pain and pain-related mental disorders.
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ABSTRACT: Voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs) are well known for its importance in synaptic transmission in the peripheral and central nervous system. However, the role of different VGCCs in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has not been studied. Here, we use a multi-electrode array recording system (MED64) to study the contribution of different types of calcium channels in glutamatergic excitatory synaptic transmission in the ACC. We found that only the N-type calcium channel blocker omega-conotoxin-GVIA (omega-Ctx-GVIA) produced a great inhibition of basal synaptic transmission, especially in the superficial layer. Other calcium channel blockers that act on L-, P/Q-, R-, and T-type had no effect. We also tested the effects of several neuromodulators with or without omega-Ctx-GVIA. We found that N-type VGCC contributed partially to (1S,3R)-1-aminocyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid- and (R)-Baclofen-induced synaptic inhibition. By contrast, the inhibitory effects of 2-Chloroadenosine and carbamoylcholine chloride did not differ with or without omega-Ctx-GVIA, indicating that they may act through other mechanisms. Our results provide strong evidence that N-type VGCCs mediate fast synaptic transmission in the ACC.Molecular Pain 11/2013; 9(1):58. · 3.77 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Neuropathic pain is caused by a primary lesion or dysfunction in the nervous system. Investigations have mainly focused on the spinal mechanisms of neuropathic pain, and less is known about cortical changes in neuropathic pain. Here, we report that peripheral nerve injury triggered long-term changes in excitatory synaptic transmission in layer II/III neurons within the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Both the presynaptic release probability of glutamate and postsynaptic glutamate AMPA receptor-mediated responses were enhanced after injury using the mouse peripheral nerve injury model. Western blot showed upregulated phosphorylation of GluR1 in the ACC after nerve injury. Finally, we found that both presynaptic and postsynaptic changes after nerve injury were absent in genetic mice lacking calcium-stimulated adenylyl cyclase 1 (AC1). Our studies therefore provide direct integrative evidence for both long-term presynaptic and postsynaptic changes in cortical synapses after nerve injury, and that AC1 is critical for such long-term changes. AC1 thus may serve as a potential therapeutic target for treating neuropathic pain.Journal of Neuroscience 07/2008; 28(29):7445-53. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Cognitive impairment is commonly associated with the pain experience. This impairment represents a major obstacle to daily activities and rehabilitation, especially in the chronic pain population. Here we review clinical and preclinical studies that have investigated pain-related alterations in cognition. These include impaired attentional, executive and general cognitive functioning. We describe the anatomical, neurochemical and molecular substrates common to both cognitive processing and supraspinal pain processing, and present the evidence for their involvement in pain-related cognitive impairment. We also examine the added complexity of cognitive impairment caused by analgesic medications and how this can further impact on morbidity in chronic pain patients. The need for a better understanding of the mechanisms of both pain-induced and treatment-related cognitive impairment is highlighted. Further research in this area will aid our understanding of patient symptoms and their underlying pathophysiology, ultimately leading to increased provision of guided therapy.Progress in Neurobiology 01/2011; 93(3):385-404. · 9.04 Impact Factor