I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Sep 2023 - 8 Sep 2023

Basic Science, Psychology

Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Neuroimaging


2023 Sep 04

J Pain


Sleep and pain: a role for the anterior cingulate cortex, nucleus accumbens and dopamine in the increased pain sensitivity following sleep restriction.


Sardi NF, Pescador AC, Azevedo EM, Pochapski JA, Kukolj C, Spercoski KM, Andrade AJM, da Cunha C, Fischer L


Persistent pain conditions and sleep disorders are public health problems worldwide. It is widely accepted that sleep disruption increases pain sensitivity, however the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. In this study, we used a protocol of six hours a day of total sleep deprivation for three days in rats to advance the understanding of these mechanisms. We focused on gender differences and the dopaminergic mesocorticolimbic system. The findings demonstrated that sleep restriction increased pain sensitivity in a similar way in males and females, without inducing a significant stress response. This pronociceptive effect depends on a nucleus accumbens neuronal ensemble recruited during sleep restriction and on the integrity of the anterior cingulate cortex. Data on indirect dopaminergic parameters, DAT glycosylation and DARPP-32 phosphorylation, as well as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine levels, suggest that dopaminergic function decreases in the nucleus accumbens and anterior cingulate cortex after sleep restriction. Complementarily, pharmacological activation of dopamine D, but not D receptors either in the anterior cingulate cortex or in the nucleus accumbens prevents sleep restriction from increasing pain sensitivity. The anterior cingulate cortex and nucleus accumbens are main targets of dopaminergic mesocorticolimbic projections with key role in pain modulation. This study showed their integrative role in the pronociceptive effect of sleep restriction, pointing to dopamine D receptors as a potential target for pain management in patients with sleep disorders. These findings narrow the focus of future studies on the mechanisms by which sleep impairment increases pain sensitivity. PERSPECTIVE: This study demonstrates that the pronociceptive effect of sleep restriction affects similarly males and females and depends on a NAc neuronal ensemble recruited during sleep restriction and on the integrity of the ACC. Findings on dopaminergic function support dopamine D receptors as targets for pain management in sleep disorders patients.