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Papers of the Week

Papers: 5 Aug 2023 - 11 Aug 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Acute Pain, Inflammation/Inflammatory, Neuropathic Pain

2023 Aug 04



The parabrachial to central amygdala pathway is critical to injury-induced pain sensitization in mice.


Torres-Rodriguez JM, Wilson TD, Singh S, Torruella-Suárez ML, Chaudhry S, Adke AP, Becker JJ, Neugebauer B, Lin JL, Martinez Gonzalez S, Soler-Cedeño O, Carrasquillo Y


The spino-ponto-amygdaloid pathway is a major ascending circuit relaying nociceptive information from the spinal cord to the brain. Potentiation of excitatory synaptic transmission in the parabrachial nucleus (PBN) to central amygdala (CeA) pathway has been reported in rodent models of persistent pain. However, the functional significance of this pathway in the modulation of the somatosensory component of pain was recently challenged by studies showing that spinal nociceptive neurons do not target CeA-projecting PBN cells and that manipulations of this pathway have no effect on reflexive-defensive somatosensory responses to peripheral noxious stimulation. Here, we showed that activation of CeA-projecting PBN neurons is critical to increase both stimulus-evoked and spontaneous nociceptive responses following an injury in male and female mice. Using optogenetic-assisted circuit mapping, we confirmed a functional excitatory projection from PBN→CeA that is independent of the genetic or firing identity of CeA cells. We then showed that peripheral noxious stimulation increased the expression of the neuronal activity marker Fos in CeA-projecting PBN neurons and that chemogenetic inactivation of these cells decreased behavioral hypersensitivity in models of neuropathic and inflammatory pain without affecting baseline nociception. Lastly, we showed that chemogenetic activation of CeA-projecting PBN neurons is sufficient to induced bilateral hypersensitivity without injury. Together, our results indicate that the PBN→CeA pathway is a key modulator of pain-related behaviors that can increase reflexive-defensive and affective-motivational responses to somatosensory stimulation in injured states without affecting nociception under normal physiological conditions.