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Papers of the Week

Papers: 6 Aug 2022 - 12 Aug 2022

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 Aug 16

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A



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Distinct neural networks derived from galanin-containing nociceptors and neurotensin-expressing pruriceptors.


Chen Y, Song Y, Wang H, Zhang Y, Hu X, Wang K, Lu Y, Zhang Z, Li S, Li A, Bao L, Xu F, Li C, Zhang X
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Aug 16; 119(33):e2118501119.
PMID: 35943985.


Pain and itch are distinct sensations arousing evasion and compulsive desire for scratching, respectively. It's unclear whether they could invoke different neural networks in the brain. Here, we use the type 1 herpes simplex virus H129 strain to trace the neural networks derived from two types of dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons: one kind of polymodal nociceptors containing galanin () and one type of pruriceptors expressing neurotensin (). The DRG microinjection and immunosuppression were performed in transgenic mice to achieve a successful tracing from specific types of DRG neurons to the primary sensory cortex. About one-third of nuclei in the brain were labeled. More than half of them were differentially labeled in two networks. For the ascending pathways, the spinothalamic tract was absent in the network derived from -expressing pruriceptors, and the two networks shared the spinobulbar projections but occupied different subnuclei. As to the motor systems, more neurons in the primary motor cortex and red nucleus of the somatic motor system participated in the -containing nociceptor-derived network, while more neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract (NST) and the dorsal motor nucleus of vagus nerve (DMX) of the emotional motor system was found in the -expressing pruriceptor-derived network. Functional validation of differentially labeled nuclei by c-Fos test and chemogenetic inhibition suggested the red nucleus in facilitating the response to noxious heat and the NST/DMX in regulating the histamine-induced scratching. Thus, we reveal the organization of neural networks in a DRG neuron type-dependent manner for processing pain and itch.