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: Cumulative evidence from both humans and animals suggests that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is important for pain-related perception, and thus a likely target for pain relief therapy. However, use of existing electrode based ACC stimulation has not significantly reduced pain, at least in part due to the lack of specificity and likely co-activation of both excitatory and inhibitory neurons. Herein, we report a dramatic reduction of pain behavior in transgenic mice by optogenetic stimulation of the inhibitory neural circuitry of the ACC expressing channelrhodopsin-2. Electrophysiological measurements confirmed that stimulation of ACC inhibitory neurons is associated with decreased neural activity in the ACC. Further, a distinct optogenetic stimulation intensity and frequency-dependent inhibition of spiking activity in the ACC was observed. Moreover, we confirmed specific electrophysiological responses from different neuronal units in the thalamus, in response to particular types of painful stimuli (i,e., formalin injection, pinch), which we found to be modulated by optogenetic control of the ACC inhibitory neurons. These results underscore the inhibition of the ACC as a clinical alternative in inhibiting chronic pain, and leads to a better understanding of the pain processing circuitry of the cingulate cortex.PLoS ONE 02/2015; 10(2):e0117746. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0117746 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The pathogenic mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain still remain largely unknown. In this study, we investigated whether spinal BDNF contributes to dorsal horn LTP induction and neuropathic pain development by activation of GluN2B-NMDA receptors via Src homology-2 domain-containing protein tyrosine phosphatase-2 (SHP2) phosphorylation in rats following spinal nerve ligation (SNL). We first demonstrated that spinal BDNF participates in the development of long-lasting hyperexcitability of dorsal horn WDR neurons (i.e. central sensitization) as well as pain allodynia in both intact and SNL rats. Second, we revealed that BDNF induces spinal LTP at C-fiber synapses via functional up-regulation of GluN2B-NMDA receptors in the spinal dorsal horn, and this BDNF-mediated LTP-like state is responsible for the occlusion of spinal LTP elicited by subsequent high-frequency electrical stimulation (HFS) of the sciatic nerve in SNL rats. Finally, we validated that BDNF-evoked SHP2 phosphorylation is required for subsequent GluN2B-NMDA receptors up-regulation and spinal LTP induction, and also for pain allodynia development. Blockade of SHP2 phosphorylation in the spinal dorsal horn using a potent SHP2 protein tyrosine phosphatase inhibitor NSC-87877, or knockdown of spinal SHP2 by intrathecal delivery of SHP2 siRNA, not only prevents BDNF-mediated GluN2B-NMDA receptors activation as well as spinal LTP induction and pain allodynia elicitation in intact rats, but also reduces the SNL-evoked GluN2B-NMDA receptors up-regulation and spinal LTP occlusion, and ultimately alleviates pain allodynia in neuropathic rats. Taken together, these results suggest that the BDNF/SHP2/GluN2B-NMDA signaling cascade plays a vital role in the development of central sensitization and neuropathic pain after peripheral nerve injury. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Neurobiology of Disease 11/2014; 73C:428-451. DOI:10.1016/j.nbd.2014.10.025 · 5.20 Impact Factor