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Papers of the Week

Papers: 22 Aug 2020 - 28 Aug 2020


Animal Studies

2020 Aug 25

J Clin Invest

Editor's Pick

dmPFC-vlPAG projection neurons contribute to pain maintenance thresholds and anxiolytic behaviors.


Yin J-B, Liang S-H, Li F, Zhao W-J, Bai Y, Sun Y, Wu Z-Y, Ding T, Sun Y, Liu H-X, Lu Y-C, Zhang T, Huang J, Chen T, Li H, Chen Z-F, Cao J, Ren R, Peng Y-N, Yang J, et al.
J Clin Invest. 2020 Aug 25.
PMID: 32841213.


The dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) has been recognized as a key cortical area for nociceptive modulation. However, the underlying neural pathway and the function of specific cell types remain largely unclear. Here, we showed that lesions of the dmPFC induced an algesic and anxious state. By using multiple tracing methods including rabies-based transsynaptic tracing method, an excitatory descending neural pathway from the dmPFC to the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG) was outlined. Specific activation of the dmPFC-vlPAG neural pathway by an optogenetic manipulation, produced analgesic and anxiolytic effects in a chronic pain mice model. Inhibitory neurons in the dmPFC were specifically activated by using a chemogenetic approach, which logically produced an algesic and anxious state under both normal and chronic pain conditions. Antagonists of GABAAR or mGluR1 were applied to the dmPFC, which produced analgesic and anxiolytic effects. In summary, the present results suggest that the dmPFC-vlPAG neural pathway might participate in the maintenance of pain thresholds and anxiolytic behaviors under normal conditions, while silencing or suppressing the dmPFC-vlPAG pathway might be involved in the initial stages and maintenance of chronic pain and the emergence of anxiety-like behaviors.