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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Aug 2019 - 23 Aug 2019

Animal Studies

2019 Oct 02

J Neurosci



Neonatal injury alters sensory input and synaptic plasticity in GABAergic interneurons of the adult mouse dorsal horn.


Neonatal tissue injury disrupts the balance between primary afferent-evoked excitation and inhibition onto adult spinal projection neurons. However, whether this reflects cell type-specific alterations at synapses onto ascending projection neurons, or rather is indicative of global changes in synaptic signaling across the mature superficial dorsal horn (SDH), remains unknown. Therefore the present study investigated the effects of neonatal surgical injury on primary afferent synaptic input to adult mouse SDH interneurons using in vitro patch clamp techniques. Hindpaw incision at postnatal day (P) 3 significantly diminished total primary afferent-evoked glutamatergic drive to adult Gad67-GFP and non-GFP neurons, and reduced their firing in response to sensory input, in both males and females. Early tissue damage also shaped the relative prevalence of monosynaptic A- vs. C-fiber mediated input to mature GABAergic neurons, with an increased prevalence of Aβ- and Aδ-fiber input observed in neonatally-incised mice compared to naïve littermate controls. Paired presynaptic and postsynaptic stimulation at an interval that exclusively produced spike timing-dependent long-term potentiation (t-LTP) in projection neurons predominantly evoked NMDAR-dependent long-term depression (t-LTD) in naïve Gad67-GFP interneurons. Meanwhile, P3 tissue damage enhanced the likelihood of t-LTP generation at sensory synapses onto the mature GABAergic population, and increased the contribution of Ca-permeable AMPARs to the overall glutamatergic response. Collectively, the results indicate that neonatal injury suppresses sensory drive to multiple subpopulations of interneurons in the adult SDH, which likely represents one mechanism contributing to reduced feedforward inhibition of ascending projection neurons, and the priming of developing pain pathways, following early life trauma.Mounting clinical and preclinical evidence suggests that neonatal tissue damage can result in long-term changes in nociceptive processing within the CNS. While recent work has demonstrated that early life injury weakens the ability of sensory afferents to evoke feedforward inhibition of adult spinal projection neurons, the underlying circuit mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that neonatal surgical injury leads to persistent deficits in primary afferent drive to both GABAergic and presumed glutamatergic neurons in the mature superficial dorsal horn (SDH), and modifies activity-dependent plasticity at sensory synapses onto the GABAergic population. The functional denervation of spinal interneurons within the mature SDH may contribute to the 'priming' of developing pain pathways following early life injury.