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Papers of the Week

Papers: 28 Dec 2019 - 3 Jan 2020

Animal Studies

2020 01 21



Decreased glutamatergic synaptic strength in the periaqueductal gray contributes to maintenance of visceral pain in male rats with experimental pancreatitis.



Visceral pain originating from chronic inflammation of the pancreas is often intractable and difficult to manage clinically. However, the pathogenesis of the central nervous system underlying visceral pain is still poorly understood. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of the midbrain ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG) in a rat model of chronic visceral pain induced by pancreatitis. In the present study, we used a well-established rat model of chronic pancreatitis induced by tail vein injection of dibutyltin dichloride (DBTC). To assess the DBTC-induced visceral pain, we examined the abdominal withdrawal by von Frey filament test. We further studied the synaptic transmission in the vlPAG by whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiological recordings. Rats receiving DBTC injection exhibited a significantly increased withdrawal frequency to mechanical stimulation of the abdomen compared to rats injected with vehicle. Interestingly, compared to rats injected with vehicle, we found that neurons dissected from DBTC-treated rats exhibited a significantly decreased synaptic strength, which was revealed by a diminishedα-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid/ N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (AMPA/NMDA) ratio in the vlPAG. Moreover, our results further demonstrated that neurons obtained from DBTC-treated rats displayed a higher paired-pulse ratio, as well as less frequent and smaller amplitudes of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents in the vlPAG compared to rats injected with vehicle. Furthermore, intra-vlPAG microinjection of AMPA alleviated DBTC-induced abdominal hypersensitivity. Taken together, our findings suggest that diminished glutamatergic synaptic strength via both presynaptic and postsynaptic mechanisms in the midbrain vlPAG is associated with DBTC-induced abdominal hypersensitivity. In addition, activation of AMPA receptors in the vlPAG alleviates DBTC-induced abdominal hypersensitivity.