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Papers of the Week

2021 Jan 25

Brain Res Bull

Projecting neurons in spinal dorsal horn send collateral projections to dorsal midline/intralaminar thalamic complex and parabrachial nucleus.



Itch is an annoying sensation that always triggers scratching behavior, yet little is known about its transmission pathway in the central nervous system. Parabrachial nucleus (PBN), an essential transmission nucleus in the brainstem, has been proved to be the first relay station in itch sensation. Meanwhile, dorsal midline/intralaminar thalamic complex (dMITC) is proved to be activated with nociceptive stimuli. However, whether the PBN-projecting neurons in spinal dorsal horn (SDH) send collateral projections to dMITC, and whether these projections involve in itch remain unknown. In the present study, a double retrograde tracing method was applied when the tetramethylrhodamine-dextran (TMR) was injected into the dMITC and Fluoro-gold (FG) was injected into the PBN, respectively. Immunofluorescent staining for NeuN, substance P receptor (SPR), substance P (SP), or FOS induced by itch or pain stimulations with TMR and FG were conducted to provide morphological evidence. The results revealed that TMR/FG double-labeled neurons could be predominately observed in superficial laminae and lateral spinal nucleus (LSN) of SDH; Meanwhile, most of the collateral projection neurons expressed SPR and some of them expressed FOS in acute itch model induced by histamine. The present results implicated that some of the SPR-expressing neurons in SDH send collateral projections to the dMITC and PBN in itch transmission, which might be involved in itch related complex affective/emotional processing to the higher brain centers.