Gwak, YS, Kang, J, Unabia, GC and Hulsebosch, CE. Spatial and temporal activation of spinal glial cells: role of gliopathy in central neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury in rats. Exp Neurol 234: 362-372
In the spinal cord, neuron and glial cells actively interact and contribute to neurofunction. Surprisingly, both cell types have similar receptors, transporters and ion channels and also produce similar neurotransmitters and cytokines. The neuroanatomical and neurochemical similarities work synergistically to maintain physiological homeostasis in the normal spinal cord. However, in trauma or disease states, spinal glia become activated, dorsal horn neurons become hyperexcitable contributing to sensitized neuronal-glial circuits. The maladaptive spinal circuits directly affect synaptic excitability, including activation of intracellular downstream cascades that result in enhanced evoked and spontaneous activity in dorsal horn neurons with the result that abnormal pain syndromes develop.