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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Apr 2022 - 29 Apr 2022


Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 Apr 29

Sci Adv



Editor's Pick

Chronic pain-induced neuronal plasticity in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis causes maladaptive anxiety.


Yamauchi N, Sato K, Sato K, Murakawa S, Hamasaki Y, Nomura H, Amano T, Minami M
Sci Adv. 2022 Apr 29; 8(17):eabj5586.
PMID: 35476439.


The comorbidity of chronic pain and mental dysfunctions such as depression and anxiety disorders has long been recognized, but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, using a mouse model of neuropathic pain, we demonstrated neuronal plasticity in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), which plays a critical role in chronic pain-induced maladaptive anxiety. Electrophysiology demonstrated that chronic pain increased inhibitory inputs to lateral hypothalamus (LH)-projecting BNST neurons. Chemogenetic manipulation revealed that sustained suppression of LH-projecting BNST neurons played a crucial role in chronic pain-induced anxiety. Furthermore, using a molecular genetic approach, we demonstrated that chronic pain elevated the excitability of a specific subpopulation of BNST neurons, which express cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART). The elevated excitability of CART-positive neurons caused the increased inhibitory inputs to LH-projecting BNST neurons, thereby inducing anxiety-like behavior. These findings shed light on how chronic pain induces psychiatric disorders, characterized by maladaptive anxiety.