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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Jun 2023 - 16 Jun 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Non-Human Pain

2023 Jun 13




A descending inhibitory mechanism of nociception mediated by an evolutionarily conserved neuropeptide system in Drosophila.


Oikawa I, Kondo S, Hashimoto K, Yoshida A, Hamajima M, Tanimoto H, Furukubo-Tokunaga K, Honjo K


Nociception is a neural process that animals have developed to avoid potentially tissue-damaging stimuli. While nociception is triggered in the peripheral nervous system, its modulation by the central nervous system is a critical process in mammals, whose dysfunction has been extensively implicated in chronic pain pathogenesis. The peripheral mechanisms of nociception are largely conserved across the animal kingdom. However, it is unclear whether the brain-mediated modulation is also conserved in non-mammalian species. Here, we show that has a descending inhibitory mechanism of nociception from the brain, mediated by the neuropeptide Drosulfakinin (DSK), a homolog of cholecystokinin (CCK) that plays an important role in the descending control of nociception in mammals. We found that mutants lacking or its receptors are hypersensitive to noxious heat. Through a combination of genetic, behavioral, histological, and Ca imaging analyses, we subsequently revealed neurons involved in DSK-mediated nociceptive regulation at a single-cell resolution and identified a DSKergic descending neuronal pathway that inhibits nociception. This study provides the first evidence for a descending modulatory mechanism of nociception from the brain in a non-mammalian species that is mediated by the evolutionarily conserved CCK system, raising the possibility that the descending inhibition is an ancient mechanism to regulate nociception.