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Papers of the Week

Papers: 3 Dec 2022 - 9 Dec 2022

2022 Dec 07

Sci Transl Med



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Green light analgesia in mice is mediated by visual activation of enkephalinergic neurons in the ventrolateral geniculate nucleus.


Tang Y-L, Liu A-L, Lv S-S, Zhou Z-R, Cao H, Weng S-J, Zhang Y-Q
Sci Transl Med. 2022 Dec 07; 14(674):eabq6474.
PMID: 36475906.


Green light exposure has been shown to reduce pain in animal models. Here, we report a vision-associated enkephalinergic neural circuit responsible for green light-mediated analgesia. Full-field green light exposure at an intensity of 10 lux produced analgesic effects in healthy mice and in a model of arthrosis. Ablation of cone photoreceptors completely inhibited the analgesic effect, whereas rod ablation only partially reduced pain relief. The analgesic effect was not modulated by the ablation of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), which are atypical photoreceptors that control various nonvisual effects of light. Inhibition of the retino-ventrolateral geniculate nucleus (vLGN) pathway completely abolished the analgesic effects. Activation of this pathway reduced nociceptive behavioral responses; such activation was blocked by the inhibition of proenkephalin (Penk)-positive neurons in the vLGN (vLGN). Moreover, green light analgesia was prevented by knockdown of in the vLGN or by ablation of vLGN neurons. In addition, activation of the projections from vLGN neurons to the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) was sufficient to suppress nociceptive behaviors, whereas its inhibition abolished the green light analgesia. Our findings indicate that cone-dominated retinal inputs mediated green light analgesia through the vLGN-DRN pathway and suggest that this signaling pathway could be exploited for reducing pain.