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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Jul 2023 - 21 Jul 2023

Basic Science, Methodology

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Inflammation/Inflammatory, Neuropathic Pain

2023 Jul 13

J Neurosci


Parabrachial nucleus activity in nociception and pain in awake mice.


Smith JA, Ji Y, Lorsung R, Breault MS, Koenig J, Cramer N, Masri R, Keller A


The parabrachial nuclear complex (PBN) is a nexus for aversion, and for the sensory and affective components of pain perception. We have previously shown that, during chronic pain, PBN neurons in anesthetized rodents have amplified activity. We report a method to record from PBN neurons of behaving, head-restrained mice, while applying reproducible noxious stimuli. We find that both spontaneous and evoked activity are higher in awake animals, compared to urethane anesthetized mice. Fiber photometry of calcium responses from CGRP-expressing PBN neurons demonstrates that these neurons respond to noxious stimuli. In both males and females with neuropathic or inflammatory pain, responses of PBN neurons remain amplified for at least 5 weeks, in parallel with increased pain metrics. We also show that PBN neurons can be rapidly conditioned to respond to innocuous stimuli, after pairing with noxious stimuli. Finally, we demonstrate that changes in PBN neuronal activity are correlated with changes in arousal, measured as changes in pupil area.The parabrachial complex is a nexus of aversion, including pain. We report a method to record from parabrachial nucleus neurons of behaving mice, while applying reproducible noxious stimuli. This allowed us to track parabrachial activity over time in animals with neuropathic or inflammatory pain. It also allowed us to show that the activity of these neurons correlates with arousal states, and that these neurons can be conditioned to respond to innocuous stimuli.