I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 6 May 2023 - 12 May 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Neurobiology

Neuropathic Pain

2023 May 09

Anat Sci Int


Collateral projections from the ventral tegmental area/substantia nigra pars compacta to the nucleus accumbens and insular cortex in the rat.


He CB, Jin Y, Li Y, Zhang Q, Yang B, Xu M, Yang J, Yi XN, Dong YL, Wang J, Li YQ


Midbrain dopaminergic (DAergic) regions including ventral tegmental area (VTA) and substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) are involved in diverse brain functions. Previous studies demonstrated that the VTA/SNc to nucleus accumbens (NAc) pathway is critical in reward and motivation. Moreover, DAergic innervations within the insular cortex (IC) are reported to play important roles in pain regulation. To investigate whether VTA/SNc sends collateral projections to NAc and IC, we injected retrograde tracer Fluoro-Gold (FG) into the NAc and Fluorescent retrograde tracer beads (RetroBeads) into the ipsilateral IC in rats. Then, to detect whether collateral projection neurons participate in neuropathic pain, parts of the rats received the spare nerve injury (SNI) surgery. The immunofluorescence staining results showed that FG, RetroBeads, and FG/RetroBeads double-labeled neurons were distributed in the VTA/SNc bilaterally with an ipsilateral predominance. The proportion of FG/RetroBeads double-labeled neurons to the total number of FG and RetroBeads-labeled neurons was 16.7% and 30.3%, respectively. About 90.3% of FG/RetroBeads double-labeled neurons showed DAergic neuron marker tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-immunoreactive (IR), whereas, only 7.5% exhibited a subset of GABAergic inhibitory projection neuron marker parvalbumin (PV)-IR. One week after SNI, about 53.1% and 33.6% of FG- and RetroBeads-labeled neurons were FG/Fos- and RetroBeads/Fos-IR neurons, respectively. Finally, about 35.9% of the FG/RetroBeads double-labeled neurons showed Fos-IR. The present study indicates that parts of DAergic and PV-IR GABAergic neurons in the VTA/SNc send collateral projections to both NAc and IC, which are activated under SNI-induced neuropathic pain, and probably contribute to the regulation of nociception.