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Papers of the Week

Papers: 21 Jan 2023 - 3 Feb 2023

2023 Jan 23

Mol Neurobiol

HCN-Channel-Dependent Hyperexcitability of the Layer V Pyramidal Neurons in IL-mPFC Contributes to Fentanyl-Induced Hyperalgesia in Male Rats.


Opioids are often first-line analgesics in pain therapy. However, prolonged use of opioids causes paradoxical pain, termed "opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH)." The infralimbic medial prefrontal cortex (IL-mPFC) has been suggested to be critical in inflammatory and neuropathic pain processing through its dynamic output from layer V pyramidal neurons. Whether OIH condition induces excitability changes of these output neurons and what mechanisms underlie these changes remains elusive. Here, with combination of patch-clamp recording, immunohistochemistry, as well as optogenetics, we revealed that IL-mPFC layer V pyramidal neurons exhibited hyperexcitability together with higher input resistance. In line with this, optogenetic and chemogenetic activation of these neurons aggravates behavioral hyperalgesia in male OIH rats. Inhibition of these neurons alleviates hyperalgesia in male OIH rats but exerts an opposite effect in male control rats. Electrophysiological analysis of hyperpolarization-activated cation current (Ih) demonstrated that decreased Ih is a prerequisite for the hyperexcitability of IL-mPFC output neurons. This decreased Ih was accompanied by a decrease in HCN1, but not HCN2, immunolabeling, in these neurons. In contrast, the application of HCN channel blocker increased the hyperalgesia threshold of male OIH rats. Consequently, we identified an HCN-channel-dependent hyperexcitability of IL-mPFC output neurons, which governs the development and maintenance of OIH in male rats.