Plastic changes in sensory inputs to rat substantia gelatinosa neurons following peripheral inflammation

T Nakatsuka, J S Park, E Kumamoto, T Tamaki, M Yoshimura
Pain 1999, 82 (1): 39-47
Although hyperalgesia elicited by inflammation has been shown to be partly due to central sensitization, the cellular mechanisms are not clear at the moment. The present study was designed to address this issue using the blind whole-cell patch-clamp technique; glutamatergic primary-afferent inputs to substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurons were compared between spinal cord slices of naive rats and rats inflamed by an intraplantar injection of complete Freund's adjuvant. In naive rats, a large number of SG neurons examined received monosynaptic A delta- (69% of 41 neurons innervated by A fibers) and/or polysynaptic C- (94% of 36 neurons innervated by C fibers) afferent inputs, and only a few neurons received monosynaptic A beta inputs (7%). In addition, when examined in neurons which have both of the A- and C-afferent inputs, A afferent-evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) were larger in amplitude than C afferent-induced ones; a ratio (A/C ratio) of the former to latter amplitude was 1.8 +/- 0.1 (n = 36). In inflamed rats, a change in the synaptic responses was observed: (1) SG neurons receiving monosynaptic A delta-afferent inputs decreased in number (to 20% of 30 neurons tested, innervated by A fibers), whereas those having monosynaptic A beta-afferent inputs increased to 33%, and (2) the A/C ratio decreased to 0.7 +/- 0.1 (n = 33). These results suggest that after inflammation, a substantial number of A beta-afferents sprout into the SG from their original location (laminae III-V) and that sensory information that used to be conveyed directly to the SG through A delta afferents is transmitted there indirectly through interneurons. These reorganizations of sensory pathway may contribute, at least in part, to underlying mechanisms for the development of hyperalgesia due to inflammation.

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