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Papers of the Week

Papers: 6 April 2024 - 12 April 2024

2024 Apr 05

J Neural Eng


Peripheral direct current reduces naturally evoked nociceptive activity at the spinal cord in rodent models of pain.


Su TF, Hamilton JD, Guo Y, Potas JR, Shivdasani MN, Moalem-Taylor G, Fridman GY, Aplin F


Electrical neuromodulation is an established non-pharmacological treatment for chronic pain. However, existing devices using pulsatile stimulation typically inhibit pain pathways indirectly and are not suitable for all types of chronic pain. Direct current (DC) stimulation is a recently developed technology which affects small-diameter fibres more strongly than pulsatile stimulation. Since nociceptors are predominantly small-diameter Aδ and C fibres, we investigated if this property could be applied to preferentially reduce nociceptive signalling. Approach: We applied a DC waveform to the sciatic nerve in rats of both sexes and recorded multi-unit spinal activity evoked at the hindpaw using various natural stimuli corresponding to different sensory modalities rather than broad-spectrum electrical stimulus. To determine if DC neuromodulation is effective across different types of chronic pain, tests were performed in models of neuropathic and inflammatory pain. Main results: We found that in both pain models tested, DC application reduced responses evoked by noxious stimuli, as well as tactile-evoked responses which we suggest may be involved in allodynia. Different spinal activity of different modalities were reduced in naïve animals compared to the pain models, indicating that physiological changes such as those mediated by disease states could play a larger role than previously thought in determining neuromodulation outcomes. Significance: Our findings support the continued development of DC neuromodulation as a method for reduction of nociceptive signalling, and suggests that it may be effective at treating a broader range of aberrant pain conditions than existing devices.