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Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Sep 2023 - 15 Sep 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Pharmacology/Drug Development


2023 Sep 06



Dexmedetomidine relieves inflammatory pain by enhancing GABAergic synaptic activity in pyramidal neurons of the anterior cingulate cortex.


Liu L, Luo Z, Mai Y, Lu Y, Sun Z, Chen J, Zeng T, Chen L, Liu Z, Yang H, Xu Q, Lan L, Tang C


Pyramidal neuron (Pyn) hyperactivity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is involved in the modulation of pain. Previous studies indicate that the activation of α2 adrenoceptors (α2-ARs) by dexmedetomidine (DEX) is a safe and effective means of alleviating multiple types of pain. Here, we showed that systemically administered DEX can ameliorate the inflammatory pain induced by hindpaw injection of formalin (FA) and further examined the molecular and synaptic mechanisms of this DEX-elicited antinociceptive effect. We found that FA caused an increase in c-Fos expression in contralateral layer 2/3 (L2/3) ACC, and that intra-ACC infusion of DEX could also relieve phase 2 inflammatory pain behavior. DEX elicited an increase in the amplitude and frequency of miniature inhibitory post-synaptic currents (mIPSCs) and evoked IPSC amplitude, as well as a reduction in the hyperexcitability and both paired-pulse and excitation/inhibition ratios in contralateral L2/3 ACC Pyns of FA mice. These electrophysiological effects were associated with the upregulation of GABA A receptor (GABAR) subunits. The interaction of phosphorylated Akt (p-Akt) with GABAR subunits increased in the ACC following administration of DEX. These results suggest that DEX treatment reduces hyperactivity and enhances GABAergic inhibitory synaptic transmission in ACC Pyns, which produces analgesic effects by increasing GABAR levels and activating the Akt signaling pathway.