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Papers: 3 Oct 2020 - 9 Oct 2020

Animal Studies

2020 Sep 29

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry

Neuropathic pain increases spontaneous and noxious-evoked activity of locus coeruleus neurons.


Alba-Delgado C, Mico J A, Berrocoso E
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2020 Sep 29:110121.
PMID: 33007320.


The noradrenergic locus coeruleus nucleus is an important station in both the ascending and descending pain regulatory pathways. These neurons discharge in tonic and phasic modes in response to sensory stimuli. However, few studies have set out to characterize the electrophysiological response of the locus coeruleus to noxious stimuli in conditions of neuropathic pain. Thus, the effects of mechanical nociceptive stimulation of the sciatic nerve area on spontaneous (tonic) and sensory-evoked (phasic) locus coeruleus discharge were studied by extracellular recording in anesthetized rats seven, fourteen and twenty-eight days after chronic constriction injury. Minor significant electrophysiological changes were found seven and fourteen days after nerve injury. However, alterations to the spontaneous activity in both the ipsilateral and contralateral locus coeruleus were found twenty-eight days after nerve constriction, as witnessed by an increase of burst firing incidence and irregular firing patterns. Furthermore, noxious-evoked responses were exacerbated in the contralateral and ipsilateral nucleus at twenty-eight days after injury, as were the responses evoked when stimulating the uninjured paw. In addition, mechanical stimulation of the hindpaw produced a significant sensitization of neuronal tonic activity after 28 days of neuropathy. In summary, long-term nerve injury led to higher spontaneous activity and exacerbated noxious-evoked responses in the locus coeruleus to stimulation of nerve-injured and even uninjured hindpaws, coinciding temporally with the development of depressive and anxiogenic-like behavior.