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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Jun 2023 - 23 Jun 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Neurobiology

2023 Jun 15



Descending facilitation of nociceptive transmission from the rostral ventromedial medulla contributes to hyperalgesia in mice with sickle cell disease.


Rogness VM, Juliette J, Khasabova IA, Gupta K, Khasabov SG, Simone DA


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder that is associated with acute episodic and chronic pain. Mice with SCD have robust hyperalgesia mediated, in part, by sensitization of spinal dorsal horn neurons. However, underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. Since the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) is a major component of descending circuitry that modulates nociceptive transmission in the spinal cord, we examined if the RVM contributes to hyperalgesia in mice with SCD. Injection of lidocaine, but not vehicle, into the RVM eliminated mechanical and heat hyperalgesia in sickle (HbSS-BERK) mice without altering mechanical and heat sensitivity in naïve C57B mice. These data indicate that the RVM contributes to the maintenance of hyperalgesia in mice with SCD. In electrophysiological studies, we determined the changes in response properties of RVM neurons that might contribute to hyperalgesia in sickle mice. Recordings were made from single ON, OFF, and Neutral cells in the RVM of sickle and control (HbAA-BERK) mice. Spontaneous activity and responses of ON, OFF and Neutral cells evoked by heat (50°C) and mechanical (26 g) stimuli applied to the hind paw were compared between sickle and control mice. Although there were no differences in the proportions of functionally-identified neurons or spontaneous activity between sickle and control mice, evoked responses of ON cells to heat and mechanical stimuli were increased approximately 3-fold in sickle mice as compared to control mice. Thus, the RVM contributes to hyperalgesia in sickle mice via a specific ON cell-dependent descending facilitation of nociceptive transmission.