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Papers of the Week

Papers: 7 Oct 2023 - 13 Oct 2023

2023 Oct 11

J Headache Pain




GFAP-NpHR mediated optogenetic inhibition of trigeminal nucleus caudalis attenuates hypersensitive behaviors and thalamic discharge attributed to infraorbital nerve constriction injury.


Kc E, Islam J, Kim HK, Park YS


The significance of hyperactive astrocytes in neuropathic pain is crucial. However, the association between medullary astrocytes and trigeminal neuralgia (TN)-related pain processing is unclear. Here, we examined how optogenetic inhibition of medullary astrocytes in the trigeminal nucleus caudalis (TNC) regulates pain hypersensitivity in an infraorbital nerve (ION) constricted TN model. We used adult Sprague Dawley rats subjected to infraorbital nerve (ION) constriction to mimic TN symptoms, with naive and sham rats serving as controls. For in vivo optogenetic manipulations, rats stereotaxically received AAV8-GFAP-eNpHR3.0-mCherry or AAV8-GFAP-mCherry at the trigeminal nucleus caudalis (TNC). Open field, von Frey, air puff, and acetone tests measured pain behavioral flexibility. In vivo thalamic recordings were obtained simultaneously with optogenetic manipulation in the TNC. Orofacial hyperalgesia and thalamic hyperexcitability were both accompanied by medullary astrocyte hyperactivity, marked by upregulated GFAP. The yellow laser-driven inhibition of TNC astrocytes markedly improved behavioral responses and regulated thalamic neuronal responses. Halorhodopsin-mediated inhibition in medullary astrocytes may modify the nociceptive input transmitted through the trigeminothalamic tract and pain perception. Taken together, these findings imply that this subpopulation in the TNC and its thalamic connections play a significant role in regulating the trigeminal pain circuitry, which might aid in the identification of new therapeutic measures in TN management.