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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Mar 2022 - 25 Mar 2022

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 Mar 15


Optogenetic manipulations of CeA-CRF neurons modulate pain- and anxiety-like behaviors in neuropathic pain and control rats.


Mazzitelli M, Yakhnitsa V, Neugebauer B, Neugebauer V
Neuropharmacology. 2022 Mar 15:109031.
PMID: 35304173.


The amygdala plays a critical role in the emotional-affective component of pain and pain modulation. The central nucleus of amygdala (CeA) serves major output functions and has been linked to pain-related behaviors. Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) in the CeA has emerged as an important modulator of pain and affective disorders. Here we measured the effects of optogenetic manipulation of CeA-CRF neurons on pain-related behaviors in a rat neuropathic pain model and under control conditions. Emotional-affective behaviors (vocalizations), mechanosensitivity (electronic von Frey anesthesiometer and calibrated forceps), and anxiety-like behaviors (open field test and elevated plus maze) were assessed in adult rats 1 week and 4 weeks after spinal nerve ligation (SNL model) and sham surgery (control). For optogenetic silencing or activation of CRF neurons, a Cre-inducible viral vector encoding enhanced halorhodopsin (eNpHR) or channelrhodopsin 2 (ChR) was injected stereotaxically into the right CeA of transgenic Crh-Cre rats. Light of the appropriate wavelength (590 nm for eNpHR; 473 nm for ChR) was delivered into the CeA with an LED optic fiber. Optical silencing of CeA-CRF neurons decreased the emotional-affective responses in the acute and chronic phases of the neuropathic pain model but had anxiolytic effects only at the chronic stage and no effect on mechanosensitivity. Optogenetic activation of CeA-CRF neurons increased the emotional-affective responses and induced anxiety-like behaviors but had no effect on mechanosensitivity in control rats. The data show the critical contribution of CeA-CRF neurons to pain-related behaviors under normal conditions and beneficial effects of inhibiting CeA-CRF neurons in neuropathic pain.