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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Apr 2023 - 21 Apr 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Neuropathic Pain

2023 Apr 17



Noradrenergic input from nucleus of the solitary tract regulates parabrachial activity in mice.


Ji Y, Onwukwe C, Smith J, Laub H, Posa L, Keller A, Masri R, Cramer N


The parabrachial complex (PB) is critically involved in aversive processes, and chronic pain is associated with amplified activity of PB neurons in rodent models of neuropathic pain. Here we demonstrate that catecholaminergic input from the caudal nucleus of the solitary tract (cNTS)-a stress responsive region that integrates intero- and exteroceptive signals-causes amplification of PB activity and their sensory afferents. We used a virally mediated expression of a norepinephrine (NE) sensor, NE2h, fiber photometry, and extracellular recordings in anesthetized mice to show that noxious mechanical and thermal stimuli activate cNTS neurons. These stimuli also produce prolonged NE transients in PB that far outlast the noxious stimuli. Similar NE transients can be evoked by focal electrical stimulation of cNTS, a region that contains the noradrenergic A2 cell group that projects densely upon PB. , optical stimulation of cNTS terminals depolarized PB neurons and caused a prolonged increase the frequency of excitatory synaptic activity. A dual opsin approach showed that sensory afferents from the caudal spinal trigeminal nucleus are potentiated by cNTS terminal activation. This potentiation was coupled with a decrease in the paired pulse ratio, consistent with an cNTS -mediated increase in the probability of release at SpVc synapses. Together, these data suggest that A2 neurons of the cNTS generate long lasting NE transients in PB which increase excitability and potentiate responses of PB neurons to sensory inputs. These reveal a mechanism through which stressors from multiple modalities may potentiate the aversiveness of nociceptive stimuli.Increased excitability of the parabrachial nucleus (PB), a key integrative hub for aversive stimuli, is linked to amplified pain behaviors. We show that prolonged norepinephrine (NE) transients in PB following noxious stimulation in mice. These NE transients potentiate sensory input to PB and arise, at least in part, from catecholaminergic projections from the caudal nucleus of the solitary tract (cNTS). We propose that activity this cNTS to PB pathway may potentiate the aversiveness of pain.