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Papers of the Week

Papers: 12 Aug 2023 - 18 Aug 2023


Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

2023 Aug 11



Short-term plasticity in the spinal nociceptive system.


Cathenaut L, Schlichter R, Hugel S


Somatosensory information is delivered to neuronal networks of the dorsal horn (DH) of the spinal cord by the axons of primary afferent neurons that encode the intensity of peripheral sensory stimuli under the form of a code based on the frequency of action potential firing. The efficient processing of these messages within the DH involves frequency-tuned synapses, a phenomenon linked to their ability to display activity-dependent forms of short-term plasticity (STP). By affecting differently excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmissions, these STP properties allow a powerful gain control in DH neuronal networks that may be critical for the integration of nociceptive messages before they are forwarded to the brain, where they may be ultimately interpreted as pain. Moreover, these STPs can be finely modulated by endogenous signaling molecules, such as neurosteroids, adenosine, or GABA. The STP properties of DH inhibitory synapses might also, at least in part, participate in the pain-relieving effect of nonpharmacological analgesic procedures, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, electroacupuncture, or spinal cord stimulation. The properties of target-specific STP at inhibitory DH synapses and their possible contribution to electrical stimulation-induced reduction of hyperalgesic and allodynic states in chronic pain will be reviewed and discussed.