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Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Mar 2024 - 15 Mar 2024

2024 Feb 25





Neural Circuitry Polarization in the Spinal Dorsal Horn (SDH): A Novel Form of Dysregulated Circuitry Plasticity during Pain Pathogenesis.


Chen X, Tang SJ


Pathological pain emerges from nociceptive system dysfunction, resulting in heightened pain circuit activity. Various forms of circuitry plasticity, such as central sensitization, synaptic plasticity, homeostatic plasticity, and excitation/inhibition balance, contribute to the malfunction of neural circuits during pain pathogenesis. Recently, a new form of plasticity in the spinal dorsal horn (SDH), named neural circuit polarization (NCP), was discovered in pain models induced by HIV-1 gp120 and chronic morphine administration. NCP manifests as an increase in excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in excitatory neurons and a decrease in EPSCs in inhibitory neurons, presumably facilitating hyperactivation of pain circuits. The expression of NCP is associated with astrogliosis. Ablation of reactive astrocytes or suppression of astrogliosis blocks NCP and, concomitantly, the development of gp120- or morphine-induced pain. In this review, we aim to compare and integrate NCP with other forms of plasticity in pain circuits to improve the understanding of the pathogenic contribution of NCP and its cooperation with other forms of circuitry plasticity during the development of pathological pain.