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Papers of the Week

Papers: 11 May 2024 - 17 May 2024

2024 May 14

Trends Neurosci


The ‘in’s and out’s’ of descending pain modulation from the rostral ventromedial medulla.


De Preter CC, Heinricher MM


The descending-pain modulating circuit controls the experience of pain by modulating transmission of sensory signals through the dorsal horn. This circuit’s key output node, the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM), integrates ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ inputs that regulate functionally defined RVM cell types, ‘OFF-cells’ and ‘ON-cells’, which respectively suppress or facilitate pain-related sensory processing. While recent advances have sought molecular definition of RVM cell types, conflicting behavioral findings highlight challenges involved in aligning functional and molecularly defined types. This review summarizes current understanding, derived primarily from rodent studies but with corroborating evidence from human imaging, of the role of RVM populations in pain modulation and persistent pain states and explores recent advances outlining inputs to, and outputs from, RVM pain-modulating neurons.