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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Dec 2022 - 16 Dec 2022

Animal Studies

2022 Dec 13

Cell Rep



Editor's Pick

A nociceptive neuronal ensemble in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex underlies pain chronicity.


Qi X, Cui K, Zhang Y, Wang L, Tong J, Sun W, Shao S, Wang J, Wang C, Sun X, Xiao L, Xi K, Cui S, Liu F, Ma L, Zheng J, Yi M, Wan Y
Cell Rep. 2022 Dec 13; 41(11):111833.
PMID: 36516746.


Pain chronicity involves unpleasant experience in both somatosensory and affective aspects, accompanied with the prefrontal cortex (PFC) neuroplastic alterations. However, whether specific PFC neuronal ensembles underlie pain chronicity remains elusive. Here we identify a nociceptive neuronal ensemble in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC), which shows prominent reactivity to nociceptive stimuli. We observed that this ensemble shows distinct molecular characteristics and is densely connected to pain-related regions including basolateral amygdala (BLA) and lateral parabrachial nuclei (LPB). Prolonged chemogenetic activation of this nociceptive neuronal ensemble, but not a randomly transfected subset of dmPFC neurons, induces chronic pain-like behaviors in normal mice. By contrast, silencing the nociceptive dmPFC neurons relieves both pain hypersensitivity and anxiety in mice with chronic inflammatory pain. These results suggest the presence of specific dmPFC neuronal ensembles in processing nociceptive information and regulating pain chronicity.