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Papers of the Week

Papers: 3 Feb 2024 - 9 Feb 2024

2024 Feb 08



Divergent changes in PBN excitability in a mouse model of neuropathic pain.


Torruella-Suárez ML, Neugebauer B, Flores-Felix K, Keller A, Carrasquillo Y, Cramer N


The transition from acute to chronic pain involves maladaptive plasticity in central nociceptive pathways. Growing evidence suggests that changes within the parabrachial nucleus (PBN), an important component of the spino-parabrachio-amygdaloid pain pathway, are key contributors to the development and maintenance of chronic pain. In animal models of chronic pain, PBN neurons become sensitive to normally innocuous stimuli and responses to noxious stimuli become amplified and more often produce after-discharges that outlast the stimulus. Using slice electrophysiology and two mouse models of neuropathic pain, sciatic cuff and chronic constriction of the infraorbital nerve (CCI-ION), we find that changes in the firing properties of PBN neurons and a shift in inhibitory synaptic transmission may underlie this phenomenon. Compared to PBN neurons from shams, a larger proportion of PBN neurons from mice with a sciatic cuff were spontaneously active at rest, and these same neurons showed increased excitability relative to shams. In contrast, quiescent PBN neurons from cuff mice were less excitable than those from shams. Despite an increase in excitability in a subset of PBN neurons, the presence of after-discharges frequently observed were largely absent in both injury models. However, GABA-mediated presynaptic inhibition of GABAergic terminals is enhanced in PBN neurons after CCI-ION. These data suggest that the amplified activity of PBN neurons observed in rodent models of chronic pain arise through a combination of changes in firing properties and network excitability. Hyperactivity of neurons in the parabrachial nucleus (PBN) is causally linked to exaggerated pain behaviors in rodent models of chronic pain but the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Using two mouse models of neuropathic pain, we show the intrinsic properties of PBN neurons are largely unaltered following injury. However, subsets of PBN neurons become more excitable and GABA receptor mediated suppression of inhibitory terminals is enhanced after injury. Thus, shifts in network excitability may be a contributing factor in injury induced potentiation of PBN activity.