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Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Sep 2023 - 6 Oct 2023

2023 Oct 02

J Pain


Hyper negative GABA reversal potential in pyramidal cells contributes to medial prefrontal cortex deactivation in a mouse model of neuropathic pain.


Kim HR, Long M, Sekerkova G, Maes A, Kennedy A, Martina M


Deactivation of medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been broadly reported in both neuropathic pain models and human chronic pain patients. Several cellular mechanisms may contribute to the inhibition of mPFC activity, including enhanced GABAergic inhibition. The functional effect of GABA-receptor activation depends on the concentration of intracellular chloride in the postsynaptic neuron, which is mainly regulated by the activity of NKCC1 and KCC2, two potassium-chloride co transporters that import and extrude chloride, respectively. Recent work has shown that NKCC1-KCC2 ratio is affected in numerous pathological conditions, and we hypothesized that it may contribute to the alteration of mPFC function in neuropathic pain. We used quantitative in-situ hybridization to assess the level of expression of NKCC1 and KCC2 in the mPFC of a mouse model of neuropathic pain (SNI), and we found that KCC2 transcript is increased in mPFC of SNI mice while NKCC1 is not affected. Perforated patch recordings further showed that this results in hyper negative reversal potential of the GABA current in pyramidal neurons of the mPFC. Computational simulations suggested that this change in GABA reversal potential is sufficient to significantly reduce the overall activity of the cortical network. Thus, our results identify a novel pathological modulation of GABA function, and a new mechanism by which mPFC function is inhibited in neuropathic pain. Our data also help explain previous findings showing that activation of mPFC interneurons has proalgesic effect in neuropathic, but not in control conditions. PERSPECTIVE: Chronic pain is associated with the presence of depolarizing GABA current in the spinal cord, suggesting that pharmacological NKCC1 antagonism has analgesic effects. However, our results show that in neuropathic pain GABA current is actually hyper inhibitory in the mPFC, where it contributes to the mPFC functional deactivation. This suggests caution in the use of NKCC1 antagonism to treat pain.