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Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Sep 2023 - 6 Oct 2023

2023 Sep 30

Pharmacol Ther


Presynaptic glutamate receptors in nociception.


Xie RG, Xu GY, Wu SX, Luo C


Chronic pain is a frequent, distressing and poorly understood health problem. Plasticity of synaptic transmission in the nociceptive pathways after inflammation or injury is assumed to be an important cellular basis for chronic, pathological pain. Glutamate serves as the main excitatory neurotransmitter at key synapses in the somatosensory nociceptive pathways, in which it acts on both ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors. Although conventionally postsynaptic, compelling anatomical and physiological evidence demonstrates the presence of presynaptic glutamate receptors in the nociceptive pathways. Presynaptic glutamate receptors play crucial roles in nociceptive synaptic transmission and plasticity. They modulate presynaptic neurotransmitter release and synaptic plasticity, which in turn regulates pain sensitization. In this review, we summarize the latest understanding of the expression of presynaptic glutamate receptors in the nociceptive pathways, and how they contribute to nociceptive information processing and pain hypersensitivity associated with inflammation / injury. We uncover the cellular and molecular mechanisms of presynaptic glutamate receptors in shaping synaptic transmission and plasticity to mediate pain chronicity, which may provide therapeutic approaches for treatment of chronic pain.