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Papers of the Week

Papers: 4 Feb 2023 - 10 Feb 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Neuropathic Pain

2023 Feb 08

Nat Commun




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Synchronized activity of sensory neurons initiates cortical synchrony in a model of neuropathic pain.


Chen C, Sun L, Adler A, Zhou H, Zhang L, Zhang L, Deng J, Bai Y, Zhang J, Yang G, Gan WB, Tang P


Increased low frequency cortical oscillations are observed in people with neuropathic pain, but the cause of such elevated cortical oscillations and their impact on pain development remain unclear. By imaging neuronal activity in a spared nerve injury (SNI) mouse model of neuropathic pain, we show that neurons in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and somatosensory cortex (S1) exhibit synchronized activity after peripheral nerve injury. Notably, synchronized activity of DRG neurons occurs within hours after injury and 1-2 days before increased cortical oscillations. This DRG synchrony is initiated by axotomized neurons and mediated by local purinergic signaling at the site of nerve injury. We further show that synchronized DRG activity after SNI is responsible for increasing low frequency cortical oscillations and synaptic remodeling in S1, as well as for inducing animals’ pain-like behaviors. In naive mice, enhancing the synchrony, not the level, of DRG neuronal activity causes synaptic changes in S1 and pain-like behaviors similar to SNI mice. Taken together, these results reveal the critical role of synchronized DRG neuronal activity in increasing cortical plasticity and oscillations in a neuropathic pain model. These findings also suggest the potential importance of detection and suppression of elevated cortical oscillations in neuropathic pain states.