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Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Nov 2019 - 15 Nov 2019

Animal Studies

2019 Nov 12

Sci Rep



Spinal gastrin releasing peptide receptor expressing interneurons are controlled by local phasic and tonic inhibition.


Freitag FB, Ahemaiti A, Jakobsson JET, Weman HM, Lagerström MC
Sci Rep. 2019 Nov 12; 9(1):16573.
PMID: 31719558.


Dorsal horn gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (GRPR) neurons have a central role in itch transmission. Itch signaling has been suggested to be controlled by an inhibitory network in the spinal dorsal horn, as increased scratching behavior can be induced by pharmacological disinhibition or ablation of inhibitory interneurons, but the direct influence of the inhibitory tone on the GRPR neurons in the itch pathway have not been explored. Here we have investigated spinal GRPR neurons through in vitro and bioinformatical analysis. Electrophysiological recordings revealed that GRPR neurons receive local spontaneous excitatory inputs transmitted by glutamate and inhibitory inputs by glycine and GABA, which were transmitted either by separate glycinergic and GABAergic synapses or by glycine and GABA co-releasing synapses. Additionally, all GRPR neurons received both glycine- and GABA-induced tonic currents. The findings show a complex inhibitory network, composed of synaptic and tonic currents that gates the excitability of GRPR neurons, which provides direct evidence for the existence of an inhibitory tone controlling spontaneous discharge in an itch-related neuronal network in the spinal cord. Finally, calcium imaging revealed increased levels of neuronal activity in Grpr-Cre neurons upon application of somatostatin, which provides direct in vitro evidence for disinhibition of these dorsal horn interneurons.