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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Mar 2022 - 1 Apr 2022

2022 Mar 23

Brain Res Bull

Chronic facial inflammatory pain-induced anxiety is associated with bilateral deactivation of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex.



Patients with chronic pain, especially orofacial pain, often suffer from affective disorders, including anxiety. Previous studies largely focused on the role of the caudal anterior cingulate cortex (cACC) in affective responses to pain, long-term potentiation (LTP) in cACC being thought to mediate the interaction between anxiety and chronic pain. But recent evidence indicates that the rostral ACC (rACC), too, is implicated in processing affective pain. However, whether such processing is associated with neuronal and/or synaptic plasticity is still unknown. We addressed this issue in a chronic facial inflammatory pain model (complete Freund's adjuvant model) in rats, by combining behavior, Fos protein immunochemistry and ex vivo intracellular recordings in rACC slices prepared from these animals. Facial mechanical allodynia occurs immediately after CFA injection, peaks at post-injection day 3 and progressively recovers until post-injection days 10-11, whereas anxiety is delayed, being present at post-injection day 10, when sensory hypersensitivity is relieved, but, notably, not at post-injection day 3. Fos expression reveals that neuronal activity follows a bi-phasic time course in bilateral rACC: first enhanced at post-injection day 3, it gets strongly depressed at post-injection day 10. Ex vivo recordings from lamina V pyramidal neurons, the rACC projecting neurons, show that both their intrinsic excitability and excitatory synaptic inputs have undergone long-term depression (LTD) at post-injection day 10. Thus chronic pain processing is associated with dynamic changes in rACC activity: first enhanced and subsequently decreased, at the time of anxiety-like behavior. Chronic pain-induced anxiety might thus result from a rACC deactivation-cACC hyperactivation interplay.