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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Dec 2022 - 23 Dec 2022

2022 Aug-Dec

Neurobiol Pain


Anandamide in the dorsal periaqueductal gray inhibits sensory input without a correlation to sympathoexcitation.


Roberts CJ, Hopp FA, Hogan QH, Dean C
Neurobiol Pain. 2022 Aug-Dec; 12:100104.
PMID: 36531614.


There is growing literature supporting cannabinoids as a potential therapeutic for pain conditions. The development of chronic pain has been associated with reduced concentrations of the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide (AEA) in the midbrain dorsal periaqueductal gray (dPAG), and microinjections of synthetic cannabinoids into the dPAG are antinociceptive. Therefore, the goal of this study was to examine the role of the dPAG in cannabinoid-mediated sensory inhibition. Given that cannabinoids in the dPAG also elicit sympathoexcitation, a secondary goal was to assess coordination between sympathetic and antinociceptive responses. AEA was microinjected into the dPAG while recording single unit activity of wide dynamic range (WDR) dorsal horn neurons (DHNs) evoked by high intensity mechanical stimulation of the hindpaw, concurrently with renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA), in anesthetized male rats. AEA microinjected into the dPAG decreased evoked DHN activity (n = 24 units), for half of which AEA also elicited sympathoexcitation. AEA actions were mediated by cannabinoid 1 receptors as confirmed by local pretreatment with the cannabinoid receptor antagonist AM281. dPAG microinjection of the synaptic excitant DL-homocysteic acid (DLH) also decreased evoked DHN activity (n = 27 units), but in all cases this was accompanied by sympathoexcitation. Thus, sensory inhibition elicited from the dPAG is not exclusively linked with sympathoexcitation, suggesting discrete neuronal circuits. The rostrocaudal location of sites may affect evoked responses as AEA produced sensory inhibition without sympathetic effects at 86 % of caudal compared to 25 % of rostral sites, supporting anatomically distinct neurocircuits. These data indicate that spatially selective manipulation of cannabinoid signaling could provide analgesia without potentially harmful autonomic activation.