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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Apr 2023 - 21 Apr 2023

Basic Science, Psychology

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Abdominal/Pelvic Pain, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Apr 17

Acta Neuropathol Commun




The locus coeruleus input to the rostral ventromedial medulla mediates stress-induced colorectal visceral pain.


Kong D, Zhang Y, Gao P, Pan C, Deng H, Xu S, Tang D, Xiao J, Jiao Y, Yu W, Wen D


Unlike physiological stress, which carries survival value, pathological stress is widespread in modern society and acts as a main risk factor for visceral pain. As the main stress-responsive nucleus in the brain, the locus coeruleus (LC) has been previously shown to drive pain alleviation through direct descending projections to the spinal cord, but whether and how the LC mediates pathological stress-induced visceral pain remains unclear. Here, we identified a direct circuit projection from LC noradrenergic neurons to the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM), an integral relay of the central descending pain modulation system. Furthermore, the chemogenetic activation of the LC-RVM circuit was found to significantly induce colorectal visceral hyperalgesia and anxiety-related psychiatric disorders in naïve mice. In a dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced visceral pain model, the mice also presented colorectal visceral hypersensitivity and anxiety-related psychiatric disorders, which were associated with increased activity of the LC-RVM circuit; LC-RVM circuit inhibition markedly alleviated these symptoms. Furthermore, the chronic restraint stress (CRS) model precipitates anxiety-related psychiatric disorders and induces colorectal visceral hyperalgesia, which is referred to as pathological stress-induced hyperalgesia, and inhibiting the LC-RVM circuit attenuates the severity of colorectal visceral pain. Overall, the present study clearly demonstrated that the LC-RVM circuit could be critical for the comorbidity of colorectal visceral pain and stress-related psychiatric disorders. Both visceral inflammation and psychological stress can activate LC noradrenergic neurons, which promote the severity of colorectal visceral hyperalgesia through this LC-RVM circuit.