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Papers of the Week

Papers: 6 Jun 2020 - 12 Jun 2020

2020 Jun 11

Physiol Rev

Editor's Pick

Cellular circuits in the brain and their modulation in acute and chronic pain.



Chronic, pathological pain remains a global health problem and a challenge to basic and clinical sciences. A major obstacle to preventing, treating or reverting chronic pain has been that the nature of neural circuits underlying the diverse components of the complex, multidimensional experience of pain is not well understood. Moreover, chronic pain involves diverse maladaptive plasticity processes, which have not been decoded mechanistically in terms of involvement of specific circuits and cause-effect relationships. This review aims to discuss recent advances in our understanding of circuit connectivity in the mammalian brain at the level of regional contributions and specific cell types in acute and chronic pain. A major focus is placed on functional dissection of sub-neocortical brain circuits using optogenetics, chemogenetics and imaging technological tools in rodent models with a view towards decoding sensory, affective and motivational-cognitive dimensions of pain. The review summarizes recent breakthroughs and insights on structure-function properties in nociceptive circuits and higher order sub-neocortical modulatory circuits involved in aversion, learning, reward and mood and their modulation by endogenous GABAergic inhibition, noradrenergic, cholinergic, dopaminergic, serotonergic and peptidergic pathways. The knowledge of neural circuits and their dynamic regulation via functional and structural plasticity will be beneficial towards designing and improving targeted therapies.